CM unveils steps to increase forest cover

The Hindu, [22 August, 2002]

Hyderabad Aug. 21. The Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, has unveiled a three-pronged strategy for increasing the forest cover in the State from the present 23 per cent to 33 per cent which is to be achieved 10 years in advance by 2010 AD, as per modified targets fixed in deference to the Vision-2020 document in the light of related possibilities, including the enthusiasm and confidence built up in the department.

The three initiatives which will reduce pressure on forests and ensure "balanced growth'' are water conservation, family planning and total literacy. Mr. Naidu told the inaugural meeting of a three-day workshop on "Governing for results'' organised at the Dr. MCR HRD Institute here today that the State was able to utilise only 9 per cent of the rain runoff for groundwater recharging while scope existed for taking this to 20 per cent. This was not difficult to achieve if sincere efforts were made. Most problems would vanish once this was achieved, the Chief Minister said, referring to fall in agriculture growth by 10 per cent last year and "a similar situation'' prevailing this year due to drought.

The workshop, organised to guide the department on how to achieve the targets through six-month, yearly and five-year action plans using the available monies, material and manpower, is being attended by district heads and the department's top brass.

Linking "population explosion'' to degradation of forests, the Chief Minister said congestion of people was swallowing what little development was achieved in different sectors. He sought increased efforts in this direction, saying Andhra Pradesh was already showing positive signs with decadal growth (1991-2001) falling by 10.5 per cent compared to the all-India average of 2.5 per cent. Because of awareness programmes, families were volunteering for family planning operations, and the annual sterilisation touched an all-time high of 8 lakh. The same target would be achieved for this year as well.

The confidence built up among people and officials about total literacy through various programmes was such that the total literacy achievement was also advanced to 2005 AD. After "Chaduvula Panduga'' recently, there still remained about 7 lakh children to be covered.

Mr. Chandrababu Naidu asked forest staff to gauge their performance by measuring green coverage achieved by December every year and comparing the same with that of the previous year by way of some benchmarks yet to be established. There was need to build up a system by which the performers could be rewarded and non-performers punished, he said. For building up this kind of system for "reporting, monitoring and tracking,'' IT was a must.

The meeting was addressed by the Principal Secretary for Forests, H. S. Brahma, and the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, S. K. Das.