Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma today said that the forest department during all these years has maintained its focus mostly on Kaziranga National Park, while there was a need to focus rationally on other forest areas as well.

He said this while launching Chief Minister’s Institutional Plantation Programme (CMIPP) by planting a sapling at the Janata Bhawan premises.

The chief minister also took part in a meeting that was held to mark the launching ceremony and stressed the larger role of the Department of Environment & Forest in reclaiming forest cover and maintaining greenery in the state. 

An initiative of the Science, Technology and Climate Change Department of the Government of Assam, the CMIPP launched today will continue till 15th August 2022.

This plantation initiative will cover more than 80,000 institutional campuses of all the offices, councils, urban local bodies, corporations, autonomous councils, registered societies and educational institutions under the Government of Assam.

Underlining the factors for the recurrence of flood and resultant devastation, the chief minister termed loss of forest cover a major reason for natural calamities of such magnitude and called for a larger role by the Forest Department in reclaiming forest cover through plantations, clearing encroachment and working in coordination with the local people to address the issue.

He said that the Forest Department during all these years has maintained its focus mostly on the Kaziranga National Park, while there was a need to focus rationally on other forest areas as well.

“This has led to the depletion of forest cover due to deforestation, encroachment etc” he said.

Therefore, the Forest Department now should focus on reclaiming forest cover, and for this, he has directed the department to conduct a bi-annual drone survey of all forests and compare the data with previous drone surveys to ascertain the loss or gain in forest cover, apart from ensuring the survival of saplings planted on various occasions.

During the month-long programme, native saplings of plant species will be planted in the institutional premises, which will be followed by proper care by the officials and will be monitored through a dedicated web portal where the institutions will continue to upload geo-tagged photographs of the plants for three years.

This initiative is aimed at enhancing carbon stock through the plantation, conservation of the native plant species, aesthetic beautification of the institutional premises and collective participation in climate action.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister asked the Education, Health and Home Department, which has the maximum number of field offices, to give major focus on implementing the programme and urged all state government departments to register in the web portal developed for uploading geo-tagged photographs of the plants so that success of the programme can be properly monitored.

He also urged all institutions to plant 75 saplings in and around the campuses, calling such plants as Amrit Briksha to transform the CMIPP into Amrit Briksha Mahotsav coinciding with the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebration. 

The chief minister asked the Forest Department to prepare modalities for shifting settlers, who are genuinely landless from forest areas to non-forest areas and adopt a zero-tolerance approach against all recent encroachments in forest areas.

He also asked the department to take steps for turning the nursery business commercially more profitable by following success models from other states.

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