Dr B Thomas (Special correspondent)
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai today instructed the Forest Department officials from the rank of Principal Secretary to District Forest Officers to move out of their offices and stay in forests for 15 days in a month.
The Chief Minister was speaking at a function to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Karnataka State Forest Development Corporation Limited.
Senior officials are rooted in Bengaluru.You are not coming out of your offices.Go to the forests, stay there for 15 days in a month.
It will boost the morale of other personnel of the department.It will send the message that the senior officials are engaged in protecting the forests,Bommai instructed.
Try to raise the forest cover to 30% in 5 years
Bommai wanted the officials to work more vigorously to improve the forest cover in the state from the present 23% to atleast 30% over the next 5 years.
He advocated the need for change in objectives of the Forest Development Corporation.There is no need to focus on profit making,the focus should be more on extending the forest cover.
We need not grow Eucalyptus for paper manufacturing.Stop planting Eucalyptus and Acacia trees which are not conducive for our ecological balance.Think about planting alternative species of plants and trees,” he said.
For the first time in the country the state budget this year has an exclusive Ecological Budget segment which seeks to offset the ecological damage.
About Rs.100 cr has been allocated for the Ecological Budget or the Green Budget to take up initiatives that would offset the ecological damage on an annual basis.
Ecological balance could be maintained if the initiative is sustained for the years ahead.
The State government is ready to grant an additional Rs.100 cr if the allocated Rs.100 cr is utilised effectively, Bommai said.
He assured complete cooperation of the state government to improve the financial condition of the Corporation and called upon the officials to take up afforestation drives on a vast scale especially in arid areas and the Northern Karnataka region.
Sandal Tree cultivation
A special scheme has been formulated to encourage farmers to cultivate Sandal trees.It should enable the farmers to boost their income,Bommai said and asked the officials to simplify the regulations for Sandal cultivation.He also emphasised the need for greater thrust on AgroForestry.
Vision Document for Forest conservation
Stressing the importance of preserving the biodiversity in Western Ghats and increasing the green cover in the state,Bommai instructed the officials to prepare a Vision Document on Forest Development for the next 50 years.