In a far-reaching decision aimed at increasing the forest cover and protecting the existing forests, Bihar government on Tuesday decided to set up Bihar Forestry Development Corporation Limited.
The new corporation would use latest communication technology for conservation of forests, protection from fire, management of forest areas and development of medicinal plants.
The decision to set up the corporation was taken at the state cabinet meeting. "The main purpose is to increase the forest cover to 15% by 2015 from the existing 9.79%," said Vijoy Prakash, principal secretary, cabinet coordination department.
According to central parameters, the forest cover should be 33%, but Bihar lags behind despite efforts to increase the forest cover. Out of 38 districts, only 11 have natural forests. The 11 districts that have natural forest areas in the state are - Kaimur, West Champaran, Rohtas, Jamui, Gaya, Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Nawada, Nalanda, Munger and Banka. While West Champaran has forests that are more than 70% dense with the area spanning 231 square kilometres, districts like Sheikhpura, Siwan, Buxar, Gopalganj and Patna have low forest areas.
The environment and forest department has worked out strategies to increase forest cover to at least 15% in the next five years, if not the national benchmark of 33%. "We are working hard to increase forest cover in the state by carrying out rehabilitation of degraded forest and planting new trees," a forest department official said.
Besides, the cabinet also sanctioned state governmentfs share of Rs. 52.12 crore for various food processing projects in the state during the current fiscal.
The cabinet released Rs. 17.93 crore for payment of monthly honorariums to contractual secretaries of gram kutcheries in the current fiscal, he added. The cabinet approved a proposal of food and civil supplies department in keeping with the agriculture roadmap to set up 211 godowns with a total storage capacity of 2.18 lakh metric tonne during 2013-14 at an estimated cost of Rs. 169 crore, he added.