Tree plantation to be under drone surveillance: Assam CM

From Sandeep Sharma

GUWAHATI: Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday asked the forest department to use drones to make surveys to check authenticity of tree plantation drives and programmes in the state under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) and other biodiversity projects.

The chief minister was addressing the mega plantation programme organised by the state forest department synchronising with 72nd Van Mahotsav week at the AIIMS construction site at Changsari in Kamrup on Wednesday.

Saying that the reforestation drive under Assam Project for Forest and Biodiversity Conservation (APFBC) would have to be monitored for quantifying the performance, the chief minister stressed on the need to increase the use of technology like satellite imaging by the forest department for monitoring activities.

He also said that drone surveys would have to be conducted for verifying the authenticity of all tree plantation programmes carried out under CAMPA and other biodiversity projects.       

Highlighting the need for working dedicatedly by the forest department officials to protect the forests and rich biodiversity of the state, Sarma informed that massive reforms would be initiated in the department soon so that incidents like elephants’ death in Bamuni Hills in Nagaon, where rampant deforestation took place, do not reoccur. Accountability will be fixed and strict action will be taken against forest department officials if forests are jeopardised, he asserted.

The chief minister reiterated the importance of Van Mahotsav in spreading the awareness about the importance of greeneries and trees for sustaining ecology.

Sarma also informed that the state government is considering the option of giving one-month compulsory paid leave to forest guards working in the sanctuaries and forests.

The chief minister said that forest department officials must work for preserving the forest resources like sand, stones etc and informed that forest beats and gates would now be abolished to check corruption and illegal supply of forest resources.

He also advocated simplifying rules for enabling people to grow and sell Agar, red sandalwood or other valuable trees in their private lands without hassle along with allowing them to dig their own lands and selling for the purpose of earth fills.   

State forest minister Parimal Shuklabaidya, health minister Keshab Mahanta, industry minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, MP Queen Ojah, state BJP president Bhabesh Kalita, MLAs Diganta Kalita, Suman Haripriya, Hemanga Thakuria, Nandita Das, principal chief conservator of forests Alaka Bhargava were present on the occasion among others.

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