Special Correspondent

Afforestation project began with Japanese assistance Afforestation project began with Japan aid

SALEM: Preliminary report on animal census has revealed `a marginal increase' in the animal population in the State, said Forest Minister N. Selvaraj.

Complete picture

Talking to reporters after reviewing the forest related works in Salem, Dharmapuri, Namakkal and Krishnagiri districts here on Wednesday, Mr. Selvaraj said a complete picture on animal population would emerge once the on-going animal census was over.

"Preliminary surveys have confirmed a marginal increase in the population in the state in general," he claimed.

Details

He, however, refused to reveal the exact details of the animals that had proliferated in Tamil Nadu forests.

The minister said he had asked the forest officials to expedite the pending cases concerning with illegal tree felling and sandalwood smuggling.

Tree felling

"Illegal tree felling has been completely stopped in the forests. A few select species such as Silver Oak are being permitted to be cut after careful study. The local district committees with Collector as chairman can take a decision on this," he said.

Saplings

Sandalwood saplings were getting rejuvenated in the forests after a gap of more than a decade, the minister said, and added that Tamil Nadu had undertaken the second phase of massive afforestation project with aid from Japan to increase the forest cover from its present 17.5 per cent to the mandatory ratio of 33 per cent by 2013.

The government had encouraged the private landholders also to raise forests.

To prevent the animals from straying into the human habitations, the government had completed the solar power electric fencing for 135 kilometres at a cost of Rs 2.70 crore.

Demarcation stones also were being erected to prevent encroachments in forest lands.

Joint forest management through forest committees and self-help groups had become successful in Tamil Nadu.

The minister distributed compensation to the families of five from Thenkanikottai in Dharmapuri district who were trampled to death by wild elephants.

Participants

Those who participated in the review meeting were the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests C.K. Sreedharan, Additional Principal Chief Conservators Rakesh Vashist and Gautham Dey, Chief Conservators of Forests (TAP) K. M. Perumaahl, Muthiayan, V. Palani (Salem) and Mani (Dharmapuri) and Salem District Forest Officer R. K. Bharathi.

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