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State gets Rs 310-crore afforestation project to tackle climate change

 To tackle climate change and restore monkeys and wildlife to the wilds, the state government is implementing a Rs 310-crore afforestation project that aims at growing broad-leafed trees and oak species in Kangra and Chamba districts.

The project will be implemented in collaboration with the German Government and will last six years.

Apart from this, the Centre has increased the mid-Himalayan watershed project grant to Rs 600 crore from Rs 365 crore, which will benefit 710 gram panchayats in 10 districts. It has increased its tenure from 2013 to 2016.

At a press conference yesterday, Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri said the project aimed at reversing the changes in climate in the state. “We will plant oak and broad-leafed trees, not chir trees, under this project”, he added.

On the monkey and wildlife menace, Bharmori claimed the government had asked the Centre to lift the ban on the export of monkeys. Secondly, their number had decreased as 83,000 monkeys had been sterilised at seven centres. The two more centres would be set up and monkeys and wildlife would be retained in the wilds as the department was planning that fruit-bearing and oaks and broad-leaved trees would be planted in the forests, he added.

The government had increased compensation for loss caused by wildlife. As many as 775 villages had been taken out from the wild life sanctuaries, he added.

Bharmouri said farmers could cut and sell Japanese shahtoot trees as the restriction had been lifted. The range officer could give permission for the same.

Himachal Pradesh was the country’s first state which had included payment for environment services in state gross domestic product, he claimed.

The fund for Swan channalistaion project had been increased to Rs 214 crore from Rs 160 crore and the term had been extended till 2016, he added.

The minister said Rs 4 crore had been earmarked for the upkeep of the 256 forest rest houses and 179 inspection huts.

Talking about the de-weeding of lantana bushes, he said the department had removed lantana from 5,000 hectares and had targeted to remove the weed from 10,000 hectares in the current year. This had benefited about 50,000 shepherds in the area.

RK Gupta, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, said the German Technique Institute had allocated Rs 25 crore for training of the forest staff and the local community to facilitate participation in the management of forests. The project would last for three years and encourage stakes in the forests as the department was planting trees to conserve the water sources in the state.

 

The Tribune (22-07-2014)