Forest administration to be modernised: Minister

June 10th, 2009 - 10:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, June 10 (IANS) The central government is working on a new scheme to modernise forest administration with a view to preventing encroachment and increasing the green cover across the country, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said here Wednesday.
“On the lines of police modernisation, we are working on a new scheme to equip forest administrators with the latest communication gadgets, surveillance system, watch towers and firearms to protect and preserve forests from intrusions, violations or encroachments,” Ramesh told reporters.

Though administration of forests lies with state governments, Ramesh said the central government had a vital role in regulating and supervising their functions to protect the eco-system and preserve the bio-diversity, including the rich flora and fauna.

“The scheme will include training and recruiting additional staff comprising range officers, field officers, watchers and guards. As many of the forest personnel in the lower rung are employed on daily wages, regularisation of their employment will minimise manpower shortage,” Ramesh said.

Expressing concern over deputation of Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers in Karnataka to other departments, including universities, Ramesh said the state government should revert them to their original postings to administer forests and protect the environment.

“I have learnt that many IFS officers in the state have been deputed to general administration and as registrars in some state universities. This trend needs to be reversed to ensure they devote their time and energy in forest development and protection of environment,” Ramesh said.

As part of his ministry’s agenda for the first 100 days of the new central government, Ramesh, who holds the independent charge, said about 100,000 families in the 36 declared tiger reserves across the country would be relocated on the fringes of the respective forests to avoid man-animal conflict.

“We plan to replicate the pilot project implemented successfully in Bhadra forest in the Western Ghats of Karnataka where we have relocated 736 families from protected areas reserved for tigers in the plains under a rehab package.

“Each family will be given a compensation of Rs.1 million for rehabilitation. The total plan expenditure for 100,000 families will be Rs.10 billion over a five-year period,” Ramesh noted.

The Karnataka government has submitted a proposal to relocate about 1,300 families from similar human settlements in the Kudremukh National Park in Chickmaglur district.

“A tripartite agreement would be signed by state governments, the National Tiger Conservation Authority and Project Tiger to monitor the funds for resettlement and rehabilitation of the relocated families,” Ramesh added.

Reiterating that protection, preservation and development of forests and environment were paramount, Ramesh said no efforts would be spared in enforcing the Forest Conservation Act of 1980.

“To strike a balance between the need to preserve the ecology and meet development goals, an Environment Protection Authority will be set up regulate projects. Construction of roads or highways and railway tracks will not be permitted through the forests at any cost. States and the railways have to find an alternative routes,” he asserted.

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