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LDF Govt. to deal sternly with forest mafia:Viswom

Written by: Staff
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Kochi, Jul 4 (UNI) Expressing the Kerala Government's determination to deal sternly with the forest and sandalwood mafia, State Forests Minister Benoy Viswom today said that appropriate legislation will be brought in for this purpose.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Viswom said the state government had decided to amend 'section 6' of the Kerala Promotion of Tree Growth in Non-Forest Areas Act 2005 through an ordinance.

The ordinance was being issued to contain indiscriminate tree felling in forest areas and promote afforestation, he said.

Mr Viswom said that the Act, as passed during the tenure of the previous UDF Government, was being misused to carry out widespread tree-felling under the guise of 'section 6', which gave landowners absolute freedom to cut and remove trees.

Describing tribals as an integral part of the forest conservation efforts, Mr Viswom said that they would be actively involved in this endeavour. Efforts would also be made to ensure that the interests of small farmers were not harmed, he added.

On the Sabarimala development plan, the minister said that the master plan formulated for this purpose would be discussed with all stakeholders including the Devaswom Board and the irrigation and forest departments to come out with a concrete plan of action.

''The master plan will be used as a starting point for initiating discussions with all concerned,'' he added.

Mr Viswom, who also holds the Housing portfolio, reiterated the pledge made by the LDF in its manifesto as well as in the Governor's address to the Assembly to provide housing to all marginalised sections of society.

However, as the task was enormous and the Housing Board was faced with financial constraints, the public should actively participate in this initiative, he added.

UNI ARC DK1522

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