French delegation meets Assam Environment minister
Assam Forest Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary with the members of French delegates

Guwahati: A French delegation of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) India on Saturday reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen the Assam government’s efforts for the protection of biodiversity and to increase green cover in the state.

The delegation, led by its India country director Bruno Bosle, called on the Minister of Environment and Forest Chandra Mohan Patowary to discuss the status of project implementation in the sphere of biodiversity protection and improving the livelihood of the forest-dependent communities being funded by AFD, an official release said.

Patowary thanked the delegation for continuous support of the AFD and release of funds in advance for the project and assured that all cooperation would be extended by the forest department for achieving the targets within the stipulated time frame.

The state government would take steps to include the funds received from AFD for the project in the supplementary budget during the winter session of the assembly in December for speedy disbursement, the minister said.

The state government’s target was to increase the forest cover from 36 per cent at present to 38 per cent, he added.

The minister urged the delegation to launch more such projects in Assam for the protection of biodiversity and ecology.

The first phase of the project was implemented from 2012 to 2019 while the second phase was launched in 2019.

The total budget of Phase 2 is 62.5 million Euros (Rs 500 crore) of which AFD’s share is 80 per cent of the total budget- 50 million Euros (Rs 400 crore) and 20 per cent i.e. 12.5 million Euros (Rs 100 crore) is the state’s share.

Out of 12,500 hectares of targeted plantations of the project, 8,992 hectares have already been achieved which comprises 71.88 per cent of the target.

During its ongoing visit to Assam, the AFD team also participated in the ONFI (French Forest Service International) workshop held at Kaziranga on Thursday.

The delegation also visited Orang National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Manas and Nameri National Parks, to understand the various aspects of landscape connectivity, flood management, functional corridors, human-wildlife conflict management, habitat management and anti-poaching mechanisms in the state.

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