VISAKHAPATNAM:The state government is planning to take up coffee plantation in about one lakh acres in Visakhapatnam agency, under the aegis of Girijan Cooperative Corporation (GCC).
The project proposal, with an estimated cost of Rs 526 crore, has been sent to chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu for approval. Considering the demand for coffee from the agency, the GCC has prepared a proposal, which will be implemented over a period of eight years.
Tribal welfare minister Ravela Kishore Babu told reporters Friday that as against the mandatory forest cover of 33 per cent of the total land extent, Andhra Pradesh has only 24 per cent forest cover and there is an urgent need to increase it. “The coffee plantation project will be taken up as part of this initiative. Of total, 50 per cent of the project cost will be met under the ST sub-plan and the Coffee Board will provide the remaining amount as a subsidy,” he added.
He claimed that the project, which is the largest plantation drive in the country in the recent times, will provide employment to hundreds of Girijans. Allaying the fears over implementation of the cluster school system, the minister stated that the government is yet to make a decision.
“The state government will not take any decision against the existing norms and the initiative is aimed to benefit students but not put them to inconvenience,” he stated. About 30 per cent of the existing tribal welfare hostels, which are housed in private buildings or have less than 50 students, will be upgraded into residential schools benefiting over 18,000 tribal students.
Kishore Babu assured that the state government will not take a hasty decision on bauxite mining project, which is likely to have a major impact on the lives of Tribals in the agency.
The GCC had a turnover of Rs 280 crore in the combined Andhra Pradesh state including Rs 155 crore in the truncated state of Andhra Pradesh. The GCC also has plans to launch more value-added products in the next few months, he added.