Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has asked officials to fast-track the process of granting forest and environment clearances for infrastructure development projects.
Patnaik’s direction came close on the heels of Union Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari blaming the state government for the delay in the implementation of several national highway projects and the construction of the second bridge over river Brahmani near Rourkela.
Gadkari had cited delay in forest clearance and land acquisition as the major reasons for the delay.
Addressing a conference of divisional forest officers at Bhubaneswar on Saturday, the chief minister said, “These clearances should be fast tracked so that developmental initiatives are not delayed.”
The chief minister also stressed the need for participation of people for increasing the green cover of the state through ‘Vana Surakshya Samitis’ and Eco Development Committees.
Joint forest management should be strengthened for protection and conservation of forests and wildlife, he said.
Patnaik asked the DFOs to implement afforestation programmes such as ‘Ama Jungle Yojana’, Green Mahanadi Mission and activities involving massive plantation drives.
For increasing the green cover, soil and moisture conservation measures should be taken up sincerely to mitigate drought-like situation, he said.
The chief minister expressed happiness over the increase in forest cover by around 3.4 lakh hectares in the state during the last two decades.
Voicing concern over man-animal conflicts, he said it is desirable to protect and manage wildlife habitat in a manner so as to reduce man-animal conflicts.
Stating that around eight lakh rural people in the state depend on kendu leaves, Patnaik said pluckers and binders are receiving dividends, incentives, allowances and are covered under several social security schemes.
The chief minister asked the officers to sincerely implement the welfare measures for the benefit of the people, particularly the disadvantaged groups.