The Forest department has launched a project, funded by National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), to rejuvenate degraded forest lands, in Vellore and Tirupattur Forest Divisions.
“NABARD had allocated Rs 47.50 crore for the project under the rural infrastructure development fund. Vellore district is among the 10 districts covered in the first phase of the project. Around Rs 5 crore has been allocated for the district,” said a senior forest official.
The prime objective of the project was to augment the ground water level in degraded forest lands, thus promoting bio-diversity. It is also aimed at bring down the man-animal conflicts in this region, by creating perennial water and food sources for wild animals. Each unit would consist of a percolation pond, two check dams and 5,000 contour trenches that would benefit about 2,500 hectares of forest land.
Under the project, Vellore Forest Division would get 16 units -- 4 units each in Vellore, Arcot and Gudiyattam Forest Ranges, 3 in Odugathur and one in Amirthi Range.
Tirupattur Forest Division would get 12 units -- four in Ambur, 7 in Tirupattur and one in Alangayam Range.
In each unit, as many as 5,000 saplings would be planted on the down stride of the contour trenches. The trenches will help in preventing soil erosion and storing water. A total of 1.4 lakh saplings of Ficus variety of trees would be planted.
“Each percolation pond and check dam will be constructed at a cost of Rs 6 lakh and Rs 3 lakh respectively,” said a forest official attached to Tirupattur.
While construction of check dams and percolation ponds are in full swing, the construction of water sources is on the verge of completion in several places. “The villagers living along the borders of the forests welcomed the project, as it will not only recharge the ground water level of forest area, but also the plains,” said a forest official.
“It will also benefit farmers and bring down the incidents of wild animals straying into human habitation in search of water and food,” the official added.