Survey to fix boundaries of reserve forests on the anvil 

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Assam witnesses increase of 221 sq km of green cover from 2017 to 2019: PCCF

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Jan 12: The state forest department is likely to conduct a ground level survey to know exact boundaries of the reserve forests in the state, principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) Arvind Madhav Singh said here on Tuesday.

“In Assam, there are 312 reserve forests. In addition to this, there are 145 proposed reserve forests in the state. But even after 25 years, neither these land have been notified as reserve forest nor de-notified as revenue land,” Singh told ‘The Hills Times’ in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

“To take it logical conclusion and to finalise the boundary, we are planning to conduct a ground level survey in the forest areas,” he said.

“Before improving the quality of the forest, these are two important things to be settled. We have already submitted standard operation procedure (SOP) for the ground-level survey of the forest areas,” the PCCF said.

“We are also planning to carry out two pilot projects at North Kamrup and Digboi Divisions subject to the approval of the government,” Singh said.

The state has 37.27% forest cover against the national average of 23.4%.

But in terms of quality, most of the forest areas are open forests having canopy density between 10 to 40%.

“We have created Mobile Anti- depredation Squadshaving six personnel including AFPF in each district.

“We have taken a new scheme under state CAMPA to establish 24 biodiversity park( Sahitya Manushi Upobon) , one in each district barring Council areas. This park is unique displaying minimum1000 different species of medicinal, herbal, fruits, ornamental, bamboos, canes etc & being dedicated to famous eminent personality,” he said.

“To improve the quality of forest, we have to work in a mission mode. After I assumed charge as PCCF and as per Assam government’s pollution-free state policy, we are able to increase the green cover of 221 sq km within last 3 years,” Singh said.

At the same time 4.7 crore saplings plantation has been carried out, Singh said and added that 3.6 crore seedlings have been distributed during this period.

According to an assessment of Forest Survey of India (FSI), there is an increase of 221 square kms of green cover in the state from 2017 to 2019.

“We are also able to check the poaching of one-horned rhinos in Kaziranga National Park during this period. There was a decreasing trend of rhino poaching in the park in the last year. We are trying to bring it down to zero,” he said.

There is a coordinated effort from police, forest and district administration of Nagaon, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong , Sonitpur and Biswanath districts to bring down the number of rhino poaching to zero this year, he said adding “we have constituted a task force to check rhino poaching”.

“Online revenue management system has been made functional. All the instalment of MCAs are deposited through online & e-TPs & e-challans are issued for transportation of minor minerals which has brought more transparency & good revenue also. The revenue has increased from Rs 54 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 269 crore in 2019-20, Singh, an IFS officer of 1986 batch, said.

The state witnesses a growing number of human-elephant conflicts. Since 2010, 761 people and 249 jumbos have lost their lives. The number of human deaths had increased from 61 in 2010 to 92 in 2018.

Most of these casualties have been reported from 11 districts, including Sonitpur, Udalguri, Baksa, Golaghat, Nagaon, Goalpara and Karbi Anglong.

“We have deployed two vehicles with six forest personnel in each district to deal with the situation. As a result, the number of deaths has gone down in 2019 and 2020,” he said.

“The forest department has been making concerted steps to preserve and protect biodiversity and pristine environment as the bio diversity parks being developed in the state are part of the state’s novel agenda of protecting its environment,” Singh said.

“To deal with the encroachment in reserve forest in all inter-state border with Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal and Mizoram, we ask all divisional forest officers (DFOs) and chief conservators of forest (CCF) to visit the areas and report district administration to check such encroachments in the reserve forest,” the PCCF said.

As regards to Laika protest, the PCCF said that the panel constituted by the state government has proposed an area for rehabilitation of the affected people of the two villages. “I hope this issue will be resolved soon,” he added.

“We have already identified certain areas in Lakhimpur and Tinsukia districts and a proposal for rehabilitation of the people has been submitted to the government,” he added.

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