Percentage of actual forest coverage in Odisha has far exceeded national average. During 2015 the percentage of actual forest cover to total geographical area of the State has increased to 32.34% against the national average of 21.34%.
This has been discussed in the Review meeting of the Forest & Environment Department held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Sri Aditya Prasad Padhi in secretariat conference hall today wherein Principal Secretary Forest & Environment Sri Suresh Chandra Mohapatra presented the updates and outlined the issues for discussion.
Reviewing the progress, Chief Secretary Sri Padhi directed the department to focus on successful implementation of Ama Jungle Yojana(AMY), conservation of sacred groove , enhancement of KL operations and proper management of eco-tourism. Chief Secretary also directed that all avenue plantation be done keeping in view the future expansion of the road. The department should take up avenue plantation in close coordination with Works and Rural Development departments.
Replying to a media query after the meeting, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Sri J. D. Sharma said that FSI (Forest Survey of India) in its report on November, 2015 has accounted 50 sq kms growth of the actual forest coverage in Odisha over the year 2013.
At present, the forest growth coverage has increased to 50,354 sq.kms which is around 32.34% of the total geographical area of the State. The percentage of actual forest coverage at national level is 21.34%. This has been possible, said PCCF Sri Sharma, mainly because of peoples’ involvement in Grama Jungle Committees and strict implementation of AMY.
Available data shows, during 2015-16 afforestation has been done over 1,50, 865 hectors and avenue plantation has been raised along 4,607 Kms. In urban areas near about 16, 55,000 saplings have been planted. Around 465 lakh saplings have also been distributed to people.
Target has been set to take up afforestation over 5, 27, 302 hects, avenue plantation along 5100 kms of road and 17, 00, 000 urban plantation during 2016-17. Chief Secretary has advised the department to grow those saplings for which there is people’s demand and distribute the saplings at nominal cost of Re1.00 to Re.2.00. It has been targeted to distribute 570 lakh saplings during 2016-17.
Around 2161 tribal sacred groves have been identified out of which 200 groves have been taken up for conservation during 2014-15. Another 500 sites will be developed during 2015-16. It has been targeted to develop all the sites within next two years. As of now, 19 sanctuaries have been developed in different parts of the State.
The projects like Nandankanan Zoological Park, Similipal Tiger Project, Crocodile conservation project at Bhitarkanika and Tikarpada, Marine Turtle conservation project at Gahirmatha, elephant project and Similipal Bio-sphere reserve have been scaled up to the height of national and international importance.
In Kendu leaf operation around 150 lakh man days have been created last year. Around 8 lakh pluckers, 20,000 binders and 18,300 seasonal staffs earn their livelihood from this operation. Last year around Rs.380 cr sale value was created from sale proceeds of the collected kenduleaf. PCCF ( KL) Sri Amiya Kumar Mohapatra , present in the meeting mentioned that this year the sale value is expected to go up to Rs.530 cr . Till now Rs.519 cr have been collected from the sale proceeds.
The issues relating to FRA and its effect on jungle, uncertainty of central plan funds, online payment to laborers, and implementation of Odisha Mineral Bearing Areas Development Corporation etc were also discussed in the meeting. The senior officers of the departments participated in the review.