THE Centre plans to revive 2.5 crore hectares of degraded forests through public-private participation (PPP) to meet its climate change plan target of reducing carbon emissions by about 35 per cent by 2030.

This was revealed by Union Minister for Environment Prakash Javadekar on Saturday while talking to journalists.

Javadekar, along with Union Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, was here to lay the foundation for four-laning of the 37-km controversial stretch of National Highway 7 in Nagpur district.

“We are planning to involve the wood import sector to participate in the greening of degraded forests. It will work on PPP lines with the private partner paying rent and sharing revenue with the government,” Javadekar said.

“They will compulsorily grow traditional fruit and flower plants on 10 per cent of the area and then can grow trees they can later use to source their wood from. This will not only save the country wood import but also increase its carbon rating,” he said.

India has a forest cover of 8 crore hectares, of which about one-third, or 2.5 crore hectares, is degraded.

Javadekar said the government was also going to focus seriously on converting moderately dense forests into dense forests and on improving their quality.

“The other major plan is to prevent cutting of trees and provide small LPG cylinders to those using firewood. About 40 per cent families, who currently use firewood, will save us an equivalent of 2 billion tonne of carbon by using LGP,” he said.

The minister said his department would also strive to increase plantation survival rate, currently at 10 per cent, to about 50 per cent over five years. Another step is to augment water storages and fodder in forests.

As regards the conflict between environment and development, he said, “We are all for sustainable development, but we will clear all linear projects like roads, transmission lines etc. falling in forest areas without delay with proper mitigation measures.”

Source: October 25, 2015, The Indian Express