Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Parliament adjourned amid ruckus

Price rise and several other issues have led to the adjournment of both the Houses of Parliament. The two Houses were adjourned for the second day today amidst uproarious scenes.The Lok Sabha could not take up the discussion on price rise as opposition continued to press for its demand to take it up under a rule which entails voting.

As the house met for the day, the CPIM members trooped into the well in support of their demand.
The House was adjourned till noon. After it met at 12 noon, there was no change in the situation forcing the Presiding Officer to adjourn the House for the day.Several other members raised issues including the demand of scrapping the minimum support price for onions and carving out a separate Telangana State.

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned first till noon and later for the day after agitating Left members were joined by the BSP to seek a discussion on price rise. Telangana issue was also raised in the House.

First National Forestry Congress Begins Today

First National Forestry Congress Begins Today
Need to Quantify benefits and Ecological Services Provided by Forests
Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan appealed for more scientific analysis of the issues relating to forest management in the country in the midst of ever increasing pressure on the forests and climate change threat. Inaugurating the first Indian Forest Congress here today, Smt. Natarajan, Minister of State for Environment & Forests (Independent charge) said that in India agro and farm forestry has been promoted in recent years through various schemes and Externally Aided Projects to bridge the gap between demand and supply for timber and fuel wood and also as an alternative livelihood option to enhance the income farmers. This has potential to divert pressure on natural forests and it is one of the important activities under Green India Mission, one of the eight missions under India’s National Action Plan for Climate Change. This programme focuses on increasing quality of our forests, and proposes to a take a holistic view of greening through a landscape approach.

Referring to Man-animal conflict and bio-piracy, the Minister asked to address appropriately. Regarding Forest certification mechanism she said it is yet to take firm roots in our country but ways and means should be designed to build up a system for its effective implementation for overall betterment of our forest development. Stating importance of ecotourism she informed that its development has shown great potential for employment generation for local youth. This opportunity must be factored into sustainable management of our forests. She asked the experts to evolve innovative solutions for human-wildlife conflict, development of forest certification in the country and to assess the tangible and non-tangible benefits from the forests. She stressed the need for second generation reforms in the Joint Forest Management Programme (JFM) and recognition of the rights of the local people and their capacity building. She praised the community of foresters for doing commendable work in protecting the forests in the midst of increasing population pressure and stressed that current investment in forest management be increased for ensuring food and water security. She urged the need for strengthening the forest bureaucracy in order to meet the increasing pressure on the forests.

Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, Member of Rajya Sabha in his Presidential Address welcomed the initiatives of the Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education (ICFRE) to organize the First Forest Congress. Prof. Swaminathan lamented the fact that political commitment for forest conservation as shown by late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi is lacking today. He stressed the need for the ICFRE to conduct focused research on Coastal, Mangroves, Hills and Dry Zones of the country. Many Van Vigyan Kendra need to be established in the country to promote Agro forestry, he added. He asked the DG, ICFRE to start projects on developing technologies for the mining rehabilitation as these areas need immediate interventions. Local heritage sites need to be given special attention in protecting the sacred groves, he further added.

Ms. Caitilin Wiesen, Country Director of UNDP–India stated that UNDP is supporting the efforts of mainstreaming the biodiversity conservation and forest based livelihoods. She welcomed the theme areas selected for the congress and pledged the support of UNDP to ICFRE. Mr. Maharaj Muthoo, President of Roman Forum, FAO in his introductory remarks informed the delegates about the international trends in forest management. Mr. A.K. Mukherjee, Former Director General of Forests, Government of India in his key note address proposed policy changes in the forestry programmes of the country. He stressed the need to bring more and more science in JFM and on tribal land issues.

The Minister released books entitled “Voices from the Field”, “Forestry in the Service of Nation - ICFRE Technologies” and “Status of JFM in India” all published by ICFRE. Addressing the gathering , Director General of Forests & Special Secretary to Government of India, Dr. P.J. Dilip Kumar stressed the need for capacity building of the JFM Committee members. Earlier, Dr. V.K. Bahuguna, Director General of the ICFRE & Chancellor of FRI University in his welcome address outlined the issues of the themes of the Seminar and said that for food and water security investment in forests need to be stepped up. Vote of Thanks was given by the Director of FRI and Vice Chancellor of the FRI University, Dr. S.S. Negi who is also Chairman of the Organizing Committee.

The 4-Day congress is being attended by the invited National & International Experts, Officers from the Government of India, Forest Department Officers, Scientists, Farmers, NGOs and others. There are 28 sub themes running parallel at NASC Complex. Special JFM conclave is also stated for 24th November 2011. The United Nations has declared the year 2011 as International Year of Forests and organization of First Indian Congress is most appropriate in showcasing the year long efforts of the country in celebrating various events during the International Year of Forests. Thirty six events have been organized during the year.

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