Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh inaugurated the 68th State Level Van Mahotsav at Pirdi in district kullu today by planting a sapling of Devdaar. Forest Minister Shri Thakur Singh Bharmouri also accompanied the Chief Minister.When I became the Chief Minister of the state for the first time in 1983, the van mafia in the state was quite active . I firmly made it a point to save the forest cover of the state and banned the green felling in the State though I faced a lot of opposition, but after a long drawn battle the then Congress government was able to put an end to the activities of van mafia", said Chief Minister.He said that after lot of persuasion we convinced people to use corrugated boxes for packaging and transport of fruits, particularly the apples. This was a step taken to avoid green felling. The Chief Minster said that as per the survey by Indian Forest Research Institute, Dehradoon in 2015, there was an increase of 13 square kilometers of forest area.
Today the green cover was around 14,683 sq kms, he said.He said that the state government was also promoting plantation of medicinal plants and during the last four and a half years 1.33 crore medicinal plants and herbs were planted and we have targeted to plant 35 lakh more medicinal plants in the year 2017-18. Apart from this, for increasing the green cover afforestation was carried out in 48,000 hectares of area including planting broad leaves and fruit plants.Forest Minister Shri Thakur Singh Bharmouri said that the Timber Distribution (TD) policy has been revised and notified on 26th December, 2013 so that the people could get adequate timber for construction. He said that the TD right holders who have been provided timber to construct a new house once in 15 years and for renovation once in five years. Principal Chief Conservator of forests Shri G. S. Goraya honoured the Chief Minister and other dignitaries on the occasion and detailed about the various activities and initiatives being taken to promote the green cover in the State.