Green cover decreasing in insurgency-hit Assam districts

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Guwahati, Sept 17 (UNI) Insurgency has claimed yet another casualty in Assam in the form of decreasing forest cover in strife-torn hilly districts, though the state still boost for a better forest cover than the national average.

The forest cover in districts such as Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills has gone down according to Forest Survey report, 2005, Assam Forest minister Rockybul Hussain informed here yesterday.

These districts have been encountering serious insurgent problems with tribal militant groups creating grave law and order problems in these virgin lands.

Besides insurgency, encroachment and jhum cultivation were also adversely affecting the green cover, the study carried out by the government said.

Insurgency had earned for the Manas National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, 'in danger' tag after Bodo militancy in the 90s wiped out the entire rhino population of the Park, besides killing large number of other animals.

The Park is yet to fully recover and do away with the 'in danger' tag, though the same Bodo militants who had once destroyed it are now engaged in regaining its glory.

Mr Hussain informed that the state, however, had a better green cover of 35.24 per cent against the national average of 33.60 per cent.

He elaborated on the measures being adapted to further increase it, including the initiative of planting one crore saplings in 800 schools across the state within this year.

A similar project of planting 3.50 lakh saplings on 300 hectares at the Balipara reserve forest was successfully carried out by the eco-task force constituted by the territorial army, the minister said.

It was a joint initiative of the Central government's Environment ministry, Defence ministry and state government.

Mr Hussain further informed that a project to plant more fruit-bearing trees has also been started in the areas where monkeys were creating havoc.

Monkeys had strayed into residential areas in search of food.

These tailed-animals even reached the state Assembly building forcing the MLAs to discuss the problem on the floor of the House.

UNI SG RH AB 1045

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