Plan to increase State forest cover

Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: A sum of Rs. 360 crore will be spent under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) to take up plantation over an extent of 23.73 lakh hectares of forest land in the State now being managed by Vana Samrakshana Samithis (VSS).

This extent constitutes 40 per cent of forest land (64 lakh hectares) in the State.

The VSS members will be encouraged to take up rubber, silver oak, red sanders, sandal and other such plantations over the lands given to them. Saplings would be given to them free of cost with the help of the nurseries developed by ITDAs.

State’s aim

Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, Forest Minister P. Ramachandra Reddy said the aim was to enhance the forest cover in the State from 23 to 33 per cent in line with the Centre’s guidelines. “We will make significant strides in the next three years.”

Asked how the forest cover could be increased when trees were being felled indiscriminately, the Minister said efficient officers had now been posted to tackle this menace. They were showing good results already as reflected by the number of cases booked and persons arrested so far.

He said over Rs 620 crore was due from the Union Government towards compensatory afforestation programmes and efforts were on to secure this amount.

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