800 villages in TN for Afforestation Project: Minister

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Tiruchirapalli, Mar 1: The Tamil Nadu Government has identified 800 villages for executing Phase-II of the Tamil Nadu Afforestation Project which seeks to improve the villagers' lot by regenerating degraded forests.

The project will cost Rs 567.42 crore with Rs 409 crore coming as soft loan from the Japanese Bank of International Cooperation, State Forest Minister N Selvaraj said. Talking to mediapersons at Thuraiyur near here yesterday, the Minister said the scheme was initiated in 2005. The State's share in the eight-year project would be Rs 158.34 crore.

Currently, Phase-II of the project was being executed at a cost of Rs 89 crore in 230 villages, including 18 in Tiruchirapalli District. Phase-I of the project covered 4.80 lakh hectare from 1997 to 2005.

He said the Forest Department has identified 1.77 lakh hectare for planting of saplings of various species. Of the 800 villages, 200 were tribal hamlets.

To a question Mr Selvaraj said the Department was erecting solar-powered electric fences around reserve forests to prevent intrusion of animals into villages.

During 2006-07, the Department erected such fences to a length of 262.5 km at a cost of Rs 4.24 crore. This year, 303.25 km fencing would be done at a cost of Rs 4.85 crore, he added.


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