Area under forest cover to increase in Punjab:Jiani

Hoshiarpur: The area under forest cover in Punjab is 6.5 per cent which would be increased to at least 10 per cent within the next two years, state Forests and Wild Life Preservation Minister Surjit Kumar Jiani said here today.

With the increase of forests, the environment in the state would improve for which an annual budget of Rs 15 crore had been sanctioned by the state government for current financial year, he told reporters here. As many as 1.10 crore saplings of various trees would be planted in public places including Panchayat lands, surrounding of schools and common places.

A new project for making plantation on either sides of Malout, Bhatinda and Mukatsar roads would soon be started, he said. Efforts were being done to bring 25 per cent area of Panchayat lands under the forest cover in state, the minister said.

Replying to a question, he said that there was a shortage of about 40 per cent staff in all categories and 60 per cent in labour department. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had given a green signal for fresh recruitment and the procedure for recruiting new staff would soon be started, he said.