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Farmers can now grow and harvest trees in 128 taluks of Karnataka

Farmers can now grow and harvest trees in 128 taluks of Karnataka


BENGALURU: Farmers are free to grow and harvest all tree species, except sandalwood and rosewood, in 128 taluks of the state. A clarification to this effect from the state government has brought a big relief to farmers. They will only need transit passes if they wish to transport the timber.

The relaxation, however, does not apply to nine districts of Chamarajanagar, Mysuru, Madikeri, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Shivamogga, Chikmagalur and Hassan. They can grow any species, but will need permission to harvest and transport timber.

“We want to promote agro forestry and encourage people to grow trees and earn incomes by meeting the market demand for timber,” said TM Vijay Bhaskar, additional chief secretary, forest, environment and ecology department. “This will help them reduce their dependence on farm crops and diversify their income sources,” he added.

The government has directed all tree officers in 128 taluks that if anyone applies for permission for felling of trees, they have to issue an endorsement saying they do not need permission. “If anyone still issues permission, it can amount to coloured exercise of power,” said Brijesh Kumar Dikshit, Additional PCCF (Forest Resource Management). The term, `coloured exercise of power’, by implication, means corruption.

Growers are inclined towards species such as teak, milia dubia, silver oak, and maesopsis emini.

“They love those species that don’t demand much of their time, and can fetch good returns,” Dikshit said. In a drought year, according to him, teak is the biggest insurance. “If the regular crop fails, a farmer can harvest his agroforestry crops and, protect his income.”
The clarification that one does not need permission in 128 taluks has ended the confusion that persisted for four decades since the passage of the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act in 1976. The growers, however, will have to plant new saplings to compensate for the trees felled.The forest officials will ensure compliance while issuing transit passes.

A coffee planter, hailing the initiative, called for a larger agroforestry policy to promote investments, job creation, and sustainable income for small farmers who can spare their land holding for regular rentals. “Farmers with small land holdings cannot wait till the trees are harvested. A formal arrangement backed by a policy will ensure they get sustained income,” he said.

The government is also, meanwhile, adding 16 more tree species to its list of 26 species for which transit pass is not required all over the State. The Forest department has also taken the entire process of granting permission for felling of trees and for transit pass online.

The biggest dampener for agro farming is the inordinate delay in grant of permissions. To overcome this problem, the government has brought the grant of permission for both felling and for issue of transit passes under the Sakala scheme. If an official does not grant permission within the said period, he or she will have to pay to the applicant for every day of delay.







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