Expressing concern over the dwindling forest cover in the state, Forest Minister C P Yogeshwar on Friday said that mining by private players was harmful for forests.
“Private miners do not follow the norms laid down by the Supreme Court. Senior forest officers are yet to handle this in a strict manner.”
He was speaking during the launch of e-Green Watch and Bhuvana Karnataka Portals organised by the Karnataka Forest Department.
The minister added that vested interests were preventing the department officials from taking stern action against illegal miners as the elections will be conducted early next year.
Yogeshwar said the forest cover in the state has to be identified and demarcated from revenue land.
“There is an increasing number of land disputes between the forest department and individuals. If the forest lands are marked, it becomes easy for the government to protect the lands,” he said.
Yogeshwar added that this would ensure that the frontline officers can manage the disputes better.
“The frontline officers of the department undergo a lot of stress while managing these disputes,” he said.
Avani Kumar Varma, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force, said the Bhuvana Karnataka Portal is an online system to monitor the assets and work executed by the forest department.
It will also incorporate mid-term corrections during the implementation of projects. The portal also has details regarding mining leases and diverted lands with fire affected areas.
It has been launched in collaboration with the National Remote Sensing Centre.
“Government funds must be used to provide better infrastructure to field officers of the forest department and Andhra Pradesh is the only state that has gone in that direction,” said P J Dilip Kumar, director general of Forests and Special Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The e-Green Watch is an online portal which places details of the Forest Conservation Act in public domain. It also places the expenditure incurred under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds along with the location of ongoing work in different ranges and divisions including boundary pillars, watch towers, solar fences, elephant and cattle proof trenches.