Centre assures funds to Punjab to increase forest cover area

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Chandigarh, Sep 17 (UNI) The Union Forest Ministry today assured total support to Punjab in its forestry related programmes to enable the state to increase its forest cover from 6.3 per cent to 15 per cent by the end of this year.

In a meeting held here between Union Minister of State for Forests Raghupati and Punjab Forest Minister Tikshan Sud, the Union Minister assured Mr Sud that Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority meeting has been convened and it would release adequate funds to Punjab to meet its target of 15 per cent forest cover in the state.

Mr Raghupati invited Mr Sud to submit a comprehensive proposal to the ministry for early release of funds.

The Union Forest Minister also agreed to the suggestion of Mr Sud to have a coordinated arrangement of northern states including Punjab, J and K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan and Union Territory Chandigarh to have a unified policy to increase forest cover in the hilly areas as well as plains.

In the meeting, the Union Forest Minister agreed to call a zonal meeting of forests ministers of these states to have a coordinated action plan to increase forest cover in northern India.

Mr Sud earlier in the meeting urged the Union Minister to pay special attention to Punjab as decreasing forest cover in the state located at the foothills of Shivaliks could invite in major ecological disaster.

He said the national target of forest cover is 33 per cent whereas Punjab was having forest cover on meager 6.3 per cent of its area. He said that Punjab deserved special allocations under various centrally sponsored schemes to meet its target of 15 per cent by next year.

In the meeting, Mr Sud also urged the Union Minister to formulate more schemes in expanding agro-forestry and herbal plantation in the states.

UNI

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