India, 5 September 2006: The Union Minister for Environment & Forest, Government of India, Thiru. A Raja said that Central Government is committed to the cause of achieving 33 percent forest cover and tree cover by 2012 while inaugurating a two-day conference of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests & Chief Wildlife Wardens from all over the country in New Delhi. He further said the 12th Finance Commission has allocated an additional 1,000 crore Rupees for the conservation and protection of forests.
The Ministry is involving different stakeholders for greening our wasteland under the multi Stakeholder Partnership Programme. He also informed that efforts are on to influence other land owning ministries to earmark two percent of their budgetary outlay for planting trees and earmarking 25% of plan outlay in Rural Employment Schemes in the Ministry of Rural Development and Ministry of Agriculture. These initiatives need to be complemented by the State Governments.
Refuting the accusations on forest department of acting against developmental aspirations of people, he said this is an unfortunate misunderstanding. Forest Department is only trying to strike a healthy balance between conservation and development, which is vital for the long-term national ecological security.
On the wildlife front, he said, the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 is amended to convert Project Tiger into Tiger Conservation Authority. He has also paved the way for setting up National Wildlife Crime Bureau for dealing with issues related to wildlife crime in a more professional manner.