Shimla – In a significant move to promote environmental conservation and streamline tax regulations, the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet, under the leadership of Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, convened a State Cabinet meeting and made noteworthy decisions with far-reaching implications.

The Cabinet agreed to implement the H.P. Nautor Rules, 1968, for a two-year period, subject to specific conditions. The Nautor scheme aims to grant permission for domestic use, but only in areas that are not classified as National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves, Community Reserves, Reserved Forests, or Demarcated Projected Forests. Additionally, the number of trees allowed as Nautor should not exceed two. Moreover, individuals granted Nautor must pledge to abstain from engaging in any forest-related offenses to ensure sustainable practices.

In an endeavour to expand green cover and combat soil erosion, the Cabinet gave the green light to the ‘Mukhya Mantri Van Vistaar Yojna’ (Chief Minister’s Forest Expansion Scheme). This ambitious initiative aims to transform barren areas of hills and mountains across the state into flourishing green spaces. The primary objectives are to expand the green cover, mitigate soil erosion, and prevent excessive runoff on degraded and challenging hill slopes. To ensure the seamless implementation of the Yojna, a Task Force, led by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and the Head of Forest Force, will be constituted. Furthermore, the maintenance of selected areas will be outsourced, with a preference for involving local inhabitants, and the plantation and maintenance work will extend over a span of seven years.

In an effort to streamline tax procedures, the Cabinet granted its approval to the Himachal Pradesh Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2023, aligning it with the CGST Act and adopting the recommendations made by the GST Council. These tax reforms are set to simplify processes and create a more business-friendly environment in the state.