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‘I will raise my voice for protecting forest areas: Vijayashankar

Staff Correspondent

Committee comprising environmentalists, officials, NGOs, to be formed

KAMALAPUR (BELLARY District): “I am an environmentalist. I will not allow any kind of damage to the environment and ecology of forest areas. I will strive hard to protect it,” said Minister for Forests C.H. Vijayashankar to a volley of questions by presspersons here on Monday. When his attention was drawn to environmentalists' concerns over the threat to forests and wildlife due to large-scale illegal mining and setting up of steel plants, some of them adjacent to the Karadi Dhama, Mr. Vijayashankar said that he would make a spot visit along with officials.

“My priority is protecting the environment. If there is any threat to forests, wildlife and environment, I will raise my voice against it besides ensuring that no industry is permitted to come up near the forest area,” he reiterated.

Regarding the reported illegal mining activities at the reserve forest area in the district, Mr. Vijayashankar said he would discuss the issue at a meeting with officials.

The Minister said that keeping in tune with his proposal to chalk out a regional policy on conservation and protection of environment and ecology, a committee comprising environmentalists, members of NGOs and officials would be formed in a month.

The committee would be asked to study the proposals made and give feedback. The regional policy was likely to be implemented during the first quarter of the next financial year, he said.

Under the policy, awareness would be created among local bodies on the need to provide green cover by planting saplings, bring more non-forest areas under green cover, prevent man-animal conflict, effectively implement forest rules and prevent encroachments and violation of laws.

He said that forest officials had been instructed to prepare an action plan to take up plantation of saplings along the hill ranges and open areas adjacent to the backwaters of Tungabhadra dam.

The Minister was on a day's visit to Bellary district to hold discussions with officials and visit the Karadi Dhama.

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