Bhubaneswar: Chief minister Naveen Patnaik Saturday said that the forest cover of the state has increased by 3.4 lakh hectares during the last two decades. He stressed that the efforts should continue for increasing the green cover with people’s participation through Vana Surakhya Samities and Eco Development Commitees. He also said that the Joint Forest Management should be strengthened for protection of forest and conservation of wildlife.

Patnaik, while addressing the Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) conference, here, urged the senior forest officers to implement all afforestation activities like Ama Jungle Yojna, Green Mahanadi Mission and other programmes with utmost dedication.

Stating that the man-animal conflict should be reduced with management of the wildlife habitat, the chief minister said that the state government has increased the compensation for human loss in wildlife attack to Rs 4 lakh from Rs 3 lakh.

Flagging off his government’s welfare programmes for the Kendu Leaf plukers, Patnaik said  8 lakh people in rural Odisha are benefited as the government started giving the pluckers and binders  dividend, incentives allowances  besides covering them under various social security programmes.

The chief minister also urged the DFOs to take steps for early forest and environment clearances for infrastructure projects in the state.

Chief secretary AP Padhi, forest and environment additional chief secretary Suresh Mohapatra and PCCF Subash Mishra also addressed the DFOs.