Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today launched Rs 310 crore Himachal Pradesh Forest Eco-system Climate Proofing Project at Satobari near Dharamsala in Shahpur assembly constituency of Kangra District for Chamba and Kangra districts. The Project aims at managing forests in such a way as to minimise and mitigate the effects of climate change together with enhancing the bio-diversity in the present Himalayan Eco-system, besides making the forests resilient to the risks of climate change. Apart from this, it will enhance the adaptive capacities of local communities to cope up with the negative impacts of climate change.The project has been launched with German collaboration with funding from KfW bank and would be implemented for six years in eight forest divisions of Chamba and Kangra districts based on climate vulnerability assessment. It would provide direct and indirect employment to about 1.5 lakh people of 600 cluster villages.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Virbhadra Singh said that the Project would be implemented through local registered societies. He said that a sum of Rs 3.33 lakh would be deposited in the bank account of each registered society on the condition that the societies so formed will work with commitment for preservation of forest and cattle wealth, food and fodder.Shri Virbhadra Singh said that the Project would go a long way in improving and enhancing fodder production capacity of forests and pastures by rehabilitation of forests areas infested with lantana in about 15000 hectares area of both the districts. He said efforts would be made to plant more broad leaved trees which would cater to the fuel and fodder demands of rural population.Chief Minister said that under the Project bamboo forests would be improved in as many as 1000 hectares, besides reviving the traditional water springs and catchment areas of around 150 nallahs. Apart from this, plant nurseries comprising of broad leave plants would also be developed and the existing ones will be improved, said he.He said that this would provide an opportunity to the rural people to earn their livelihood through livestock management. He said that the people associated with the registered societies would also be imparted training within and outside the country and to enhance income of the societies, micro schemes associated with forestry and management of livestock would be simultaneously improved.
Chief Minister said that there were authentic indications that climate change was going to accelerate the degradation of forests thereby increasing the vulnerability of forest eco-system and rural population unless adaptive measures were taken. He said that State government had imposed complete ban on felling of trees way back in 1982. He said that in order to conserve this precious natural wealth the Government made it mandatory to use corrugated apple boxes for packaging and transportation of apples. He said that the government had set up carton factory at Gumma in Shimla district but it was unfortunate that the BJP government sold the carton factory at throwaway price. He urged the people not to sell their land to land mafias and mediators and said that the Government would take strict action against middlemen going for sale deeds through land mafia. He said that no outsider would be permitted to purchase land in the State and exhorted the people not to sell their valuable land to outsiders.Chief Minister announced extension of Forest Rest House at Satobari, beautification and repair of leakages in Dal Lake.
Forest Minister, Shri Thakur Singh Bharmouri said that the Project will regenerate the forest areas besides providing employment to the rural populace. He said that it was due the increase in forest area of the State that the Project was sanctioned for the state. He thanked the Chief Minister for launching the ambitious Project with community participation. He said Rs 60 lakh would be spent on setting up of modern nurseries besides incurring Rs one crore on rejuvenation of the existing ones.Vice-Chairman, State Forest Corporation, Shri Kewal Singh Pathania thanked the Chief Minister for opening of SDM office at Shahpur besides fulfilling the promise of constructing concrete road from Tibetan Children Village upto Dal Lake. He also listed the development activities in Shahpur assembly segment.Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Shri S.P. Vasudeva welcomed the Chief Minister and other distinguished guests on the occasion and detailed the salient features of the Project.Urban Development Minister, Shri Sudhir Sharma, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Shri Neeraj Bharti, MLA Shri Sanjay Rattan Chairman, HP State Education Board, Shri Balbir Tegta, Ex-MLA, Shri Surinder Kaku, representative of KfW bank of Germany Ms. Sangeeta Aggarwal and other senior officers were also present on the occasion.