Staff Reporter

Offenders will be booked under Goondas Act: Minister

TIRUCHI: A special squad will be formed to check poaching of peacocks, Forests Minister N. Selvaraj said here on Wednesday.

He was replying to questions raised at a press meet on a recent incident in the Manapparai taluk in the district where 17 peacocks were killed by poachers.

Mr. Selvaraj said the Forest Department would take severe action against forest offenders and poachers. Steps would be taken to book them under the Goondas Act.

Reviewing the progress of schemes being implemented by the department across the State with Forest Department officials here, he said the Central Zoo Authority had granted permission for the setting up of a zoological park at M.R. Palayam in the district on the Tiruchi-Perambalur national highway. The zoo would come up in the reserve forest on 100 acres. Preliminary work had started. The zoo would come up in three years.

The State Government was keen on increasing the tree cover in the State. The Forest Department planned to provide 50 lakh saplings free to farmers and those who needed them. The Government also planned to plant saplings on private land. Priority would be given to small and marginal farmers.

The saplings would be planted on 25,000 acres of private fallow land. The Government had earmarked Rs. 10 crore for the purpose and the Forest Department would plant and maintain the saplings for three years. Forest Rangers had been asked to identify potential private land.

The plantation work would begin in December after the monsoon and would be completed before the end of the current financial year.

The department would provide over one lakh saplings free of cost in six Corporation areas and maintain them for three years. The Government had allocated Rs.4 crore.

Steps had been taken to upgrade the degraded forest areas under the Tamil Nadu Afforestation Programme with financial assistance from the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation, he said.