While discussing sensitive issue regarding ecological degradation with Sunita Narayan, world renowned environmentalist and Director of Centre for Science and Environment, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal laid emphasis over the sustainable forest management to protect fragile Himalayan ecology with the technical expertise of the Central Science and Environment Department.

Chief Minister said that the State Government had taken a number of initiatives directed towards preservation of ecology of the State which included complete ban on green felling, use of recycled and plastic bags, and banning high polluting industrial units and would be banning use of plastic cups and plates from October 2, 2011. He said that added emphasis was being laid over the activities which could enhance green cover and contribute towards preservation of the Himalayan environment. He said that strict regulations had been formulated to deal with the people using plastic and polythene bags. He said that the State Government had decided to provide garbage bags in every HRTC bus to collect the peels and other littering material into it. He thanked the Industrialists for volunteering to donate bags for the purpose. He said that the State was making optimum use of the plastic waste by using the same in road mettling works. He thanked the people of the State who had overwhelmingly cooperated in every move aimed at preservation of environment. He said that the environmental condition had improved substantially since the time effective steps were initiated by the State Government.

Chief Minister said that mass awareness about environment was being created through different means which included a nine point pledge by the students in their morning prayers to sensitize them about the importance of environment for the sustenance of all living beings. He said that the State had launched ‘Congress Ghas Hatao – Charagah Bachao’ scheme with a view to save the environment and fertile land from the weeds. He said that it has scientifically been proved that the aged trees were consuming oxygen instead of releasing hence more emphasis had to be laid over the plantation of new trees which could release oxygen. He said that the people of the state were so deeply involved in environmental protection that they grow trees like their own children. He expressed deep concern over the increase in LPG prices which would hamper the initiatives of saving forests in the State as reversal of the people towards using fuel wood could be dangerous towards environment. He said that the State had launched Mata Shabri Mahila Sashaktikaran Yojna providing 50 percent subsidy to the women of scheduled caste category identified as BPL over purchase of LPG connections and 5100 beneficiaries, 75 in each assembly segment, would be benefited under the scheme during current financial year.

Chief Minister urged the Central Government to issue notification with regard to banning use of metallic packaging material and other material being marketed in plastic packagings which were hampering the environment protection process of the State. He said that the proposed railway line to Leh was another national level project to protect environment in the Himalayas since the same could help in protection of environment which was being polluted by the heavy vehicles carrying man and material to the border areas. He said that timely action was required to be taken to protect environment since the global warming and climate change would be approaching fast and no choice would be left to protect environment.

Sunita Narayan appreciated the initiatives of the State Government aimed at protection of pristine environment of the Himalayan region. She said that she had been quoting the efforts of Himachal Pradesh on environmental front at national and international level where she had been addressing the conferences and seminars on environment. She lauded the endeavour of the State in sensitizing the young citizens about the importance of environment in their life through nine point pledge in morning prayers. She said that the State had vast forest wealth which could be exploited for income generation and substituted by compensatory plantations. She expressed happiness over the environment consciousness amongst the young citizens in the State. She said that she would soon be visiting the sites of hydel projects in the State to assess the impact on environment. She assured all guidance and help to the State in protection of environment.