In order to remove hardships being faced by farmers in making commercial use of their agricultural lands in Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) areas, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badalon Friday urged Union Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar to waive off conditions imposed by the Centre over such areas which were under habitation and cultivation.
Badal along with senior state officers called upon the Environment and Forest Minister in New Delhi and stressed that there was nothing coming in the way of developing such areas as per law. Javedkar assured Punjab to decide on the matter within one month and asked the concerned officers to come out with a proposal in this regard.
Badal has also sought to notify ecological sensitive areas around Sukhna wildlife sanctuary in Chandigarh as the state has already forwarded a proposal for notification of eco sensitive zones (ESZ) around 13 wildlife sanctuaries to the environment ministry. He impressed upon the Union Minister that this proposal was in accordance with recommendation of central empowered committee of Supreme Court, which has recommended 100 mt ESZ around protected areas.
The Deputy Chief Minister also urged that habitants of village Kansal should not be further burdened by restrictions imposed under ESZ in one KM width. Badal told that Punjab had already discussed the ESZ matter with UT and Haryana.
He also urged to provide exemption to Punjab from Forests Act 2006 for seeking clearance certificate from concerned Deputy Commissioner to the effect of rights of scheduled tribes or traditional forest dwellers in respect of forest areas to be developed.
Punjab government contended that there is no population belonging to the scheduled tribes or other traditional tribes in the state as per the census report of the Union government. Javedkar asked the State to resolve this issue at its own by publication of public notices.
Badal also suggested to the Union Minister to adopt State Forest Research Institute Ludhiana as a sub-centre of Forest Research Institute (FRI) Dehradun for promotion of agro forestry in the region as well as Northern states. He said the state institute was being setup in collaboration with the FRI as a centre of excellence in agro forestry research and extension services.
Javedkar promised to look into the proposal and decide the matter after meeting with concerned administrators of the institute. Member of Parliament Prem Singh Chandumajra, Principal Secretary Forests and Wildlife Vishvajeet Khanna, Resident Commissioner Rahul Bhandari, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Kuldip Kumar and senior officers of Union Forests Ministry attended the meeting.