Government focused on enhancing forest quality and increasing tree cover: Javadekar

Aug 17: “Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is focused on enhancing forest quality and increasing tree cover for maximizing carbon stock.”, said the Union Environment Minister, Shri Prakash Javadekarat the States Forest Minister’s Conference held in New Delhi. Minister of State in the Environment Ministry, Shri Babul Supriyo, other officials in the Ministry, Chief Ministers of the State of Arunachal Pradesh and Goa, Deputy Chief Ministers and 24 Forest Ministers from various States participated in the four-hour long meeting held via video conferencing.

Shri Javadekar addressing the meeting said that, “We have taken many initiatives to bring out transformational changes in our policies and programmes and implement several schemes which includes massive tree plantation, promoting urban forestry through Nagar Van Scheme, Landscape based catchment treatment of 13 major rivers, LiDAR based survey of degraded forest areas for soil moisture conservation projects and launch of National Transit Portal to facilitate smooth movement of Forest produce.”

These efforts are critical to meet our national and international goals under National Forest Policy, Nationally Determined Commitments and restoration of degraded forest land, said Shri Javadekar.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in his independence day speech had announced the launch of Project Lion and Project Dolphin. The Union Environment Minister said that the government will launch a holistic Project Dolphin in a fortnight, for the conservation and protection of the Dolphins in the rivers and in oceans of the country.

Project Dolphin will involve conservation of Dolphins and the aquatic habitat through use of modern technology specially in enumeration and anti-poaching activities. The project will engage the fishermen and other river/ ocean dependent population and will strive for improving the livelihood of the local communities. The conservation of Dolphin will also envisage activities which will also help in the mitigation of pollution in rivers and in the oceans.

The Union Minister also stated that the government is working towards the Project Lion, that will involve conservation of the Asiatic Lion and its landscape in a holistic manner. The Project Lion will entail habitat development, engage modern technologies in Lion management and address the issues of disease in Lion and its associated species through advanced world-class research and veterinary care. The project will also address Human-wildlife conflict and will be inclusive involving local communities living in the vicinity of Lion landscape and will also provide livelihood opportunities.

At the meeting, Shri Javadekar stressed that states should use CAMPA funds exclusively for afforestation and plantation. “I announce that 80% of afforestation fund shall be utilized only for afforestation/plantation and the rest 20% can be used for capacity building etc. The Centre in August 2019 released Rs. 47,436 crores CAMPA funds for afforestation to various states. Ministry is also going to announce implementation of School Nursery Scheme shortly, said the Union Environment Minister during the meeting.

The Nagar Van Scheme which was announced on this World Environment Day for creation of 200 Nagar Van, on forest land by adopting a collaborative approach, involving various agencies like forest and other departments, NGOs, Corporate Bodies, Industries etc, was also discussed at length during the course of the meeting. Initially, the Ministry will be giving grants for fencing and soil moisture works. The primary objective is to create forested area in cities with Municipal Corporation, which will act as lungs of the cities.

School Nursery scheme which aims at involving school students from the young age in nursery and plantation operations was also elaborated and discussed during the course of the four-hour long meeting. The objective of the scheme is to inculcate the spirit of forest and environment in the mind of young students. Scheme guidelines will be shared with the States shortly.

Another important issue highlighted during the meeting by Shri Prakash Javadekar was the study given to ICFRE for river rejuvenation of 13 major rivers which will promote forestry along river, increase ground water recharge and reduce erosion. Similarly, LiDAR technology, an airborne remote sensing method which will assist in identification of the degraded land for construction of soil and water conservation structures and launch of a nationwide National Transit Portalto promote smooth inter-state movement of forest produce,whose pilot was launched recently was also an agenda item of the meeting.

During the meeting the States gave their status of preparedness for implementation of various programmes initiated by Ministry and also conveyed their willingness to associate with all other initiatives of Government of India to promote green cover. States showed enthusiasm and expressed cooperation with MoEF&CC in this endeavour.

The meeting was organized with a view to ensure participation and coordination of all the States in taking forward various initiatives of Govt. of India to meet the National and International Goals.