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Preparatory talks on Green India begins

By Staff reporter

GUWAHATI, June 11 � Assam and other States of the Northeast would gain special focus in the National Mission for a Green India or the Green India Mission that seeks to improve the quality and extent of tree cover in India. This was emphatically spelled out by Union Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh who launched the first of a series of national consultations in Guwahati today.

Reasoning that the region and the Eastern Himalayas were among mega biodiversity hotspots in the world, Ramesh mentioned that the information gaps about the areas have to be filled, and special interest was required not just to protect the green cover, but to improve the quality.

He revealed that while Assam did have around 38 per cent of forest cover, a considerable part of that was �degraded� and there was definite scope for improvement. �I urge all forest personnel and other stakeholders to consider the issue of quality of green cover,� he remarked.

Significantly, the Minister said a shift was required to monitor and intervene in protecting and improving the forest cover of the Northeast and other parts of the country. Although assessments have been done every two years, such efforts were not adequate. The present requirement was real-time information about the state of the forests, a task that could be performed better when India has its first dedicated satellite to map its forests by 2013.

Acknowledging that there was significant ground to be covered in the area of climate change, he said that a new centre will come up in the North Eastern Hill University in Shillong that would have satellite links with all the NE States. The Centre would aid study of the climate change issue from a local perspective and would help build strategies related to monitoring and mitigation efforts.

Appreciating the Centre for Environment Education for organizing the first national consultation on the Green India Mission, he hoped that all groups of civil society would participate in shaping the final document that would be adopted in the future.

In the consultation, participants highlighted several issues, which they believed have to be addressed for the mission to be successful.

There was embarrassment in store for the Union Minister when he disclosed that he was unaware of Assam having a Ramsar site. Responding to comments made by Prof A Goswami, he expressed his surprise that Deepor Beel, a Ramsar site, was facing threats to its existence. It was quite evident that the State Government had never bothered to enlighten the Minister about the condition of the wetland that is decreasing in size over the years.

Environmental activist Soumyadeep Datta said that there was a need to have probity in the manner in which rhino horns were sought to be disposed off by the Forest Department. He warned that in the present system there were loopholes that could be used by unscrupulous people.

Others who attended underlined the need to conserve the wetlands, grasslands and hill ranges of Northeast India, all of which created the unique biodiversity of the region. Ramesh on his part said that his office is prepared to listen to the people, and they could also communicate their views and recommendations with his officers.

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Preparatory talks on Green India begins

GUWAHATI, June 11 � Assam and other States of the Northeast would gain special focus in the National Mission for a Green India or the Green India Mission that seeks to improve the quality and extent of tree cover in India. This was emphatically spelled out by Union Minister of Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh who launched the first of a series of national consultations in Guwahati today.

Reasoning that the region and the Eastern Himalayas were among mega biodiversity hotspots in the world, Ramesh mentioned that the information gaps about the areas have to be filled, and special interest was required not just to protect the green cover, but to improve the quality.

He revealed that while Assam did have around 38 per cent of forest cover, a considerable part of that was �degraded� and there was definite scope for improvement. �I urge all forest personnel and other stakeholders to consider the issue of quality of green cover,� he remarked.

Significantly, the Minister said a shift was required to monitor and intervene in protecting and improving the forest cover of the Northeast and other parts of the country. Although assessments have been done every two years, such efforts were not adequate. The present requirement was real-time information about the state of the forests, a task that could be performed better when India has its first dedicated satellite to map its forests by 2013.

Acknowledging that there was significant ground to be covered in the area of climate change, he said that a new centre will come up in the North Eastern Hill University in Shillong that would have satellite links with all the NE States. The Centre would aid study of the climate change issue from a local perspective and would help build strategies related to monitoring and mitigation efforts.

Appreciating the Centre for Environment Education for organizing the first national consultation on the Green India Mission, he hoped that all groups of civil society would participate in shaping the final document that would be adopted in the future.

In the consultation, participants highlighted several issues, which they believed have to be addressed for the mission to be successful.

There was embarrassment in store for the Union Minister when he disclosed that he was unaware of Assam having a Ramsar site. Responding to comments made by Prof A Goswami, he expressed his surprise that Deepor Beel, a Ramsar site, was facing threats to its existence. It was quite evident that the State Government had never bothered to enlighten the Minister about the condition of the wetland that is decreasing in size over the years.

Environmental activist Soumyadeep Datta said that there was a need to have probity in the manner in which rhino horns were sought to be disposed off by the Forest Department. He warned that in the present system there were loopholes that could be used by unscrupulous people.

Others who attended underlined the need to conserve the wetlands, grasslands and hill ranges of Northeast India, all of which created the unique biodiversity of the region. Ramesh on his part said that his office is prepared to listen to the people, and they could also communicate their views and recommendations with his officers.