Forest Dept. to further expand mangrove cover in coast: Limbavali

Demand to release deemed forest lands for other purposes to be addressed in three-four months

Minister for Forest, Kannada and Culture Arvind Limbavali on Saturday said the Forest Department will be encouraged to expand the mangrove forest patch in coastal districts so as to conserve environment and boost eco-tourism.

Speaking to reporters after a boat ride through the mangrove forest along Panchagangavali river in Kundapur, Mr. Limbavali praised the initiative of the department in raising mangrove in about 15 hectares of backwaters of Panchagangavali in a year. He asked department officials to raise more such plantations in Kundapur and Byndoor taluks that have vast river backwater system.

Stating that mangroves would act as natural barriers to prevent sea erosion and cyclonic impact, Mr. Limbavali noted that Udupi district has mangroves spread over 600 hectares area in Kodi, Jalady, Anagalli, Uppinakudru, Hattikudru, Kannada Kudru, Paduvari, Koderi, Sasthana, and Udyavar.

Mangroves also act as breeding places of marine fauna, he noted.

Speaking to reporters later at Udupi, Mr. Limbavali said he was aware of the issue of deemed forests in the district and would resolve them in about three months.

The district has over 68,000 hectares of deemed forests and there were demands for diverting them for other purposes, including housing.

Regarding Kumki, Baane, and other such land, there were discussions and they would be addressed subsequently.

“We have to work towards conserving the forest resources for the next generation.”

The Minister said Deputy Conservators of Forests have been authorised to approve upgradation of road infrastructure, from mud to bitumen and from bitumen to concrete, in forest areas other than wildlife reserves or national parks.

For upgrading road and power infrastructure in reserve forests, online applications have to be made to the Karnataka Wildlife Board, which would be considered at the earliest. Similarly, public utilities, namely bus shelters, etc., should be allowed without cutting trees, he said.

The Minister said no law prohibits diversion of social forest lands for the use of public purposes.

Inaugurating the Salumarada Thimmakka Tree Park at Hebri, Mr. Limbavali said the government had given revenue lands to raise social forests and if the lands were required for government works, including power infrastructure, they should be given, he said.

Hebri should get power sub station at the earliest as planned on social forest land, he added.

Backward Classes Welfare Minister Kota Srinivas Poojary, MLAs of Udupi district and senior officials were present during Mr. Limbavali’s visit to Udupi district.

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