The Social Forestry Department of the State Government has decided to set up National Green Corps (NGC) parks in each district by July 31. In a joint venture with the forestry department, the city-based Poona Club is engaged in wooing environmentalists

Local Administration Minister M.K.Stalin inaugurated the Joint Forestry Management Training Centre at Velachery here on Friday. At another function, Mr. Stalin distributed Rs. 15.17 crore, which was earned by way of tank bund plantations by the Social Forestry wing of the State Forest Department. Sixty per cent from the total revenue earned through the tank bund plantations were provided to village panchayats. The amount was outstanding since 2000.

A nine-member expert team headed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF-Wildlife) MC Malakar has started an on-the-spot visit to the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), Pabitora and Orang from today. The expert team visited Pabitora this morning and the KNP in the afternoon. It will visit Orang tomorrow. The committee has been formed by Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain at a meeting yesterday as the killing of rhinos continued unabated in the State.

At the time when unabated encroachment in Lawkhowa Wildlife Sanctuary is going on posing a threat to the sanctuary, a forest guard on duty had to resort to firing to stop an alleged attempt of encroachment by a group of people in Lawkhowa recently. However, the most unfortunate thing was that the forest guard who was only discharging his duty, was ultimately arrested by Nagaon Police on receipt of an FIR from a section of people, without going through the complaint lodged by the Forest Department against the encroachers.

The Forest Department has made elaborate arrangements to prevent and control fires during the summer. Special attention will be paid to sensitive and fire-prone areas. Fire lines have been made to prevent fire from spreading and local people are being motivated to protect forests.

The first meeting of an expert committee on medicinal plants has urged the Forest Department to submit a report, within a month, on in situ conservation and preservation of medicinal plants in natural habitats.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of rhinos poached in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam, with as many as 18 of them being killed in the sanctuary in 2007.

Not just the famed one-horned rhino, but the dense forests sheltering it are also in danger in Asom, as poaching and deforestation continues unabated.

Fisherman Nandu Pawar (40) is ecstatic at the prospect of having a nature park in what he calls his "native land' Bhandup. "We are locals of Bhandup village and fishing here has been our age-old occupation. However, of late, a lot of us have been finding jobs elsewhere because fishing is not lucrative anymore. The mangrove park will mean new opportunities in our own land. We can think of a plethora of respectable jobs here as guides, boat riders, guards, etc,' he explains. Nearly 10,000 villagers of Bhandup echo Pawar's feelings. "We'd rather work in the place that we have inhabited for years than find jobs elsewhere,' they say. "Besides, we know how living in the mangrove area saved us during the June 26, 2006, floods. We will be proud to see this land develop as a tourism zone.' The state government's forest department will soon sign a formal agreement with NGO Conservation Action Trust (CAT) to develop the 452-hectare wetland between Bhandup and Kanjurmarg as a Mangrove Wetland Centre (MWC), the first of its kind in India. Still a proposal, CAT plans to submit a master plan of the park

The government is conducting a socio-economic survey in the Bhadrachalam forests to find out the status of primitive tribal groups who will be displaced by the Polavaram project. The minister for major irrigation, Mr Ponnala Lakshmaiah, told the Council that that the survey had been concluded in 276 villages. Ten more villages are left to be surveyed. Kondareddis, one of the primitive groups, live in the Bhadrachalam forests. Mr Lakshmaiah was reacting to MLCs who asked the government to explain the status of the primitive tribes. Mr P. Yadagiri (TD) said, advocates who were filing cases on behalf of displaced people were minting money. The minister said land acquisition was done with the consent of the locals and there was no role of advocates. The Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy said collectors were asked to be liberal while granting compensation to displaced persons.