BENGALURU: Children studying in state-run institutions will visit forest areas as part of their curriculum from the next academic year.
The Forest Department has come up with ‘Chinnara Vanya Darshana’, a programme to sensitise schoolchildren on flora and fauna and other rich forest resources. Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, Forest Minister B Ramanath Rai said that under the programme, the department would take Class 9 students on a week-long excursion to forests. The programme is an attempt to create awareness among schoolchildren on the need to take up afforestation and protect flora and fauna.
In the first phase, the department will shortlist schools close to forest ranges. “The programme will be announced by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the next budget,” he said.
Nearly 22 per cent of the state is under forest cover and efforts are being made to increase it to 32 per cent, he said.
In reply to a question on forest encroachment, he said, “The department is leaving no stone unturned to implement the Supreme Court directions on the issue.”
Stating that the state government is not for evicting those families in possession of forest land prior to 1975, he said, “We have plans not to evict those families who have encroached upon not more than three acres of forest land.” He said the department has so far reclaimed about 77,885 acres of forest land. “We have to strike a balance between social obligations and forest and environment laws,” he added.
Decision on Panel Report Soon
Referring to the K Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats, Forest Minister B Ramanath Rai on Tuesday said, “The state government has decided to elicit opinions of all the stakeholders, including environmentalists, people’s representatives and forest dwellers on the subject.” The Kerala government had recently submitted its opinion on the report to the Union government. “The Karnataka state government will also reply to the Centre shortly” he said. The Cabinet sub-committee headed by Ramanath Rai has so far met five times to discuss the recommendations of the report in detail.