Assam govt will increase forest cover by additional 2,000 sq km: Sonowal

Guwahati, Oct 7 (PTI) Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday said the government will increase the forest cover in the state by an additional 2,000 sq km in future.

Speaking at the concluding ceremony of the 66th Wildlife Week here, Sonowal said that Assam, which is famous for its clean and green ambience, has to be restrengthened with this new addition.

“The state government has decided to increase the forest reserve of the state by another 2,000 square kilometre,” he added.

As per the official website of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, the recorded forest area of the state is 26,832 sq km, accounting for 34.21 per cent of its geographical area.

According to their legal status, reserved forests constitute 66.58 per cent and unclassed forests 33.42 per cent of the total forest area.

Sonowal said that the state government has finalised to set up a forest division at Borail range and has already announced that steps have been taken to link Dehing Patkai with Joypore and transform it into a National Park.

Besides, the rain forest of Jonai will be made a wildlife sanctuary in the coming days, he added.

“The state government will also set up an Institute of Wild Life Health and Research at Dinjan in Dibrugarh district.

Moreover, like in Kaziranga and Manas National Parks, all the wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests camps will be provided with solar lights and smartphones,” Sonowal said.

As a result of the slew of measures initiated by the government, the rich biodiversity of the state has been drawing wildlife enthusiasts from across the world to Assam, he added.

Taking a dig at the Congress-led previous governments in the state, the chief minister said 240 poachers were handed “exemplary punishments” by setting up 10 fast track courts during the BJP-led state government.

Speaking on the occasion, Assam Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said that the state government has already planted eight crore saplings to contribute to the green coverage of the state.