SIKKIM: Tough policy bears green fruits – but no diplomatic solution on NH31A yet, the lifeline to Sikkim, is flying over from Gangtok easier ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Gangtok, June 15: Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling today said some of the difficult decisions taken by his government to preserve the forests in the state had yielded a four per cent rise in the green cover.
“From the time we came to power in 1994, we undertook policies and measures to protect the environment and our forests. As a result, the forest cover of Sikkim has increased by four per cent till today,” said Chamling while launching the fifth phase of the Green Mission at Chintan Bhavan here.
“The forest cover of Sikkim in 1995-96 was 43.95 per cent. According to the 2009 report of the ministry of forests, the green cover of Sikkim is now 47.59 per cent which is because of our sound environment conservation policies,” said Chamling.
He said some forest conservation policies like ban on animal grazing in forests and removal of cow sheds from jungles had come under a lot of flak at the time of its introduction. “But we went ahead with our mission to conserve our rich biodiversity for our future generations,” said the chief minister. He appealed to the people to participate in the mission whole-heartedly.
“The Green Mission is not of the government alone but it is a mission of the people and we have to set a successful example for the nation.” He observed that the mission fits the eco-tourism thrust of the state government perfectly. The mission will not only increase the forest cover but also lead to sustainable development and make Sikkim a truly eco-friendly tourism destination, he added.
The Green Mission launched in 2006 calls for public participation in planting saplings and ornamental flower plants like rhododendrons and bushes along the roads and barren land, both government and private. It also seeks to beautify the roads of Sikkim with trees and flowers.
According to the forest secretary S.T. Lachungpa, 5- 6 lakh saplings and flower seedlings have been planted by all sections of the society in the state every year since the mission started.
The forest secretary claimed a survival rate of around 70 per cent for the saplings planted under the mission.
State conservator of forests (territorial) Pradeep Kumar said the saplings planted under the mission roughly covered 200km every year. Last year, around 6.2 lakh of saplings were planted, he said.