Shimla: The officials from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) India, called on Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh at his official residence Oak Over here today and briefed him, that USAID-funded partnership for land use science (Forest Plus) program aims for improved ecosystem management and carbon sequestration in the State and further designing incentives for forest dependent communities to participate in afforestation drives.

The Chief Minister said that the State Government had taken various initiatives for increasing the green cover in the State. “I was made Chief Minister by former Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi on the very issue that during that time the ‘Van mafia’ was very active in the State and since I became the Chief Minister, there was total ban on felling in the State.” said he.

Virbhadra Singh said that my aim was to re-generate our forests wealth. Knowing well, that our state would have generated massive revenue from our forests, my Government was firm on not to even allow scientific felling of trees, he said.

The Chief Minister stressed for field training to the staff involved in plantation and other similar projects and said that proper fencing of the saplings should be ensured to protect them at the growing stage.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests R.K Gupta informed the Chief Minister that it was after Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka that Himachal Pradesh is the fourth State in India that has been picked up by USAID for undertaking massive tree plantation drive in the State wherein broad leaves tress would be the preference which will help in reducing carbon emissions.

Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri, Vice-Chairperson Forest Corporation Kewal Singh Pathania, Dr. Verghese Paul, Senior Forest Advisor US Agency for International Development, Christopher Kernan, US representative and other officers were present on the occasion.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.