Staff Reporter

It will go up from 17.5 per cent to 33 per cent:says Selvaraj

KARUR: Efforts were under way to increase the forest cover in the State, the Forest Minister, N. Selvaraj, has said.

Participating in a green movement afforestation programme here on Thursday, Mr. Selvaraj said the present green cover was estimated to be just 17.5 per cent of the land area and that efforts were being taken to increase that to 33 per cent over the next few years.

It was necessary that useful saplings be planted in private and public places apart from regular forest conservation in the reserved forests of the State, the Minister observed.

Though that could take some time, nevertheless a beginning should be made. He said that on the occasion of the Chief Minister's 83rd birthday recently, sapling planting was undertaken in all the 1,000 villages covered under the Tamil Nadu Afforestation Programme in the State.

More importantly, he urged the officials to ensure that the planted saplings survive the initial phase to grow as trees.

Fostering the saplings is a must, he said. Mr. Selvaraj said that saplings could be given free of cost to anyone who volunteers to plant that in their place and nurture them.

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, C. K. Sreedharan, underlined the fact that it was a difficult task fostering the saplings in town as against nurturing them in forest environment. Land, water and air conservation needed greater afforestation efforts, he noted.

The Collector, A. Karthik, stressed that afforestation was akin to defence of a country's borders as greening protects the environment against assault from various agencies. The Divisional Forest Officer, D. Mani, the Krishnarayapuram MLA, P. Kamaraj, the Karur Municipal Chairman, K.V. Ramasamy, councilors and the DMK district secretary, Vasuki Murugesan, were among those who participated in the function.