Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur directed the forest department to work with more zeal and dedication for enhancing the green cover of the state besides giving fast clearances to the developmental projects of different departments. He was presiding over the review meeting of the forest department held here today.He stressed that the department should accord top-most priority for construction of ponds across the state under CAMPA which would help in maintaining moisture in the forests besides preventing forest fires. The ponds should be constructed after proper evaluation at such sites from where maximum benefit could be given to the people. He asked the department to prepare a plan for construction of ponds and concentrate on saturation of about five water sheds in first phase by involving experts.Jai Ram Thakur said that four major externally aided projects were being implemented in the state by the forest department. For forest management, biodiversity preservation and livelihood improvement Rs. 800 crore JICA Forestry Project would be implemented over a period of ten years in six districts of the state. Similarly, HP Forests for Prosperity Project with investment of Rs. 665 crore would be implemented for five years and HP Forest Eco System Climate Control Proofing project for lantana eradication was also being implemented in the state.
He said Rs. 700 crore Integrated Development Project was also being implemented in ten districts of the state for a period of seven years. He said that the state government has made a provision of separate budget for nurseries by delinking it from the norms of plantation to ensure quality and proper monitoring of the process.He directed for proper fencing of departmental nurseries at the plantation site.The Chief Minister directed the department to launch extensive awareness campaign on forest fires by involving Mahila Mandals and Self Help Groups so that the mindset of the people could be changed who generally set the forests to fire for getting better grass, which in fact was a wring assumption.Forest Minister Govind Singh Thakur said that a special drive would be taken up for catching and sterilizing the monkeys in Shimla during this year.Additional Chief Secretary, Forest Tarun Kapoor apprised that 17.54 lakh plants were planted by the forest department in three days over 601 locations of the state by involving 86186 people.Additional Chief Secretaries Dr. Shrikant Baldi and Anil Khachi, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Ajay Kumar and other senior officers of the forest department attended the meeting.