Restoration of degraded forest responsibility of private investors: Vijay Shah

Kunwar Vijay Shah

Bhopal: Forest Minister Kunwar Vijay Shah has said that an innovative initiative has been taken by the Forest Department to entrust the responsibility for private investment aimed at restoring and improving the degraded forest areas of the state. Approval will be sought by sending the proposal to the Government of India following which the process of inviting private investment will begin.

Forest Minister Kunwar Vijay Shah informed that 37420 square kilometers of forest area in the state has been classified as degraded forest area. He said that through private investment, the forest cover would be increased to strengthen the livelihoods of the local communities living in degraded forest areas, as well as to achieve the goal of sustainable operation of mitigating environmental services like water cycle etc.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief of Forest Force, Shri Rajesh Srivastava has issued guidelines to all the Regional Chief Conservator of Forests and Regional Forest Divisional Officers in this regard that all the Forest Divisional Officers should select and inspect the areas and prepare the information including the map and mandatorily send it to the Head Office in a fortnight.

This work has been taken up keeping in mind the constructive role of private investment in degraded forest areas of the state. This will achieve the goal of increasing productivity of degraded forest areas besides capital investment in forestry sector will boost technical and managerial skills. Through this scheme, increase in employment opportunities to local communities will strengthen livelihood based on natural resources in the long run, achieving the goal of Atmanirbhar Bharat by providing local products in place of imported raw material to wood based industries as well as sustainable operation of ecological services through green cover will also play a leading role in achieving the nation’s goals for mitigation of climate change from carbon absorption.

In the first phase, areas with good prospects will be selected in each forest division. In area selection, such areas will be selected from the reserved or protected forest area in the restoration work area, where more than 60 percent of the area has less than 0.2 area density, under the action plan of the forest board. One work unit will be formed including the forest area of 500 to 1000 hectares at one place. As much as possible, the formation of a work unit in the selected forest room should be located within a radius of 10 km besides the entire area should be free from encroachment. Proposal can be made by including the government revenue land adjacent to the forest area. For this the permission of the District Collector will be required.

In the matter of selection for most of the plantation in the selected forest areas, priority will be given to areas with deep and suitable soil and proper water resources. All boundary signs of the selected forest area will be inspected on the spot and the position of the munars will be recorded with a GPS device with accuracy better than one meter.

After approval from the Government of India, the process of inviting private investment will begin. With the consent of the community dependent on the forest area, the afforestation project will be implemented with the help of private investment for improvement of the degraded forests. The contract period will be for 30 years. Fifty percent of the share acquired under contract with private investor will be given by the state government to the Village Forest Committee / Gram Sabha.

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