Himachal govt okays extension of lease of forest land for open-cast mining

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Dharamshala, Nov 2 (PTI) The Himachal Pradesh government on Monday decided to extend the lease of some forest land for open-cast mining with a ban on tree felling and blasts, besides approving diversification of various activities related to forests.

The decision was taken in a board meeting of the Himachal’s State Forest Development Corporation Limited, chaired by state Forest Minister Rakesh Pathania, said an official statement here.

During the meeting, a proposal to give a bonus of Rs 20 lakh to employees of the state forest corporation was also approved.

The decision to allow the diversification of the forest land was taken to increase the profitability of the State Forest Corporation Limited, the minister said.

He said the diversification plans include an emphasis on eco-tourism besides setting up solar power plants on forest land and producing floor tiles and wall-panelling material from the forest produce for which two modern processing plants would be set up in Nurpur and Nachan areas of the state.

The solar power plants would be set up on the forest land at a height of more than 7,000 feet where there is less number of trees, the minister said, adding the power generated from these plants would be sold to the state electricity board.

Among other activities, sandalwood and herb-based excellence centre will be developed in Kuthed of Jawali subdivision of Kangra district for which directions have been given to the Forest Department to prepare a plan, said the minister.

He said the Forest Department has already marked the land for this project.

Talking of various precautions being taken during the open cast mining on forest land, an official said there is a strict ban on the felling of trees and triggering blasts for the mining. PTI CORR RAX RAX