In view of rising incidents of poaching of wildlife and illegal tree felling, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that the State Government will be coming up with new forest protection plan. He said Samajik Vanikaran’ (social forestation) department would be merged with the forest department to come up with a foolproof plan.
Mungantiwar said that forest cover in the state had dwindled to 19.94 per cent from the earlier 33 per cent.
He also said that forest department did not have enough staff, though it was doing its best to protect the jungles.
“We have only one guard for 1,000 hectares of forest, with very little arms and infrastructure. But now we have allocated three SRP platoons for the security of forests,” he added.
The minister said that the government had decided to merge the Samajik Vanikaran department with the forest department, and a five-year forest policy would be framed.
The policy would be tabled in the next session of the House, he added.
In the last one and half years, 55 employees of the forest department were found guilty of dereliction of duty while three forest guards were suspended, he informed.