BHOPAL: The proposal by forest department to hand over degraded forests to corporates for afforestation has been returned by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The proposal had kicked up quite a controversy at the budding stage itself. The concept note prepared by the forest department titled, 'Concept paper on private investment in rehabilitation of degraded forest in Madhya Pradesh' was prepared in the month of September and sent to CM office for consideration.
According to the proposal state government had proposed to hand over about 37,420 sq km (40% of its forest land) of degraded forest lands to private companies for reforestation. The concept note had calculated that about Rs 56,130 cr would be required to restore the forest. Considering state's financial health it was advised that private investment by invited to do this work. The proposal had impressed the forest minister Vijay Shah as well. He had said that it was a win-win formula for both- the government and the tribal living in forest areas. Private companies will shell out 50% of revenue earned from forests to gram van samitis and gram sabhas besides providing employment to the local people.
As the report came out in media, it invited criticism from various quarters. However, the file related to this proposal that was lying at the CM office for past two months has now been returned by the CM two days ago putting all speculations related to privatization of forests to end
Sources said that farmers' protest had set the government to reject the proposal. People are pointing fingers that the new agriculture law has been made to favour corporate houses. The proposal related to afforestation inviting private investments could have attracted same charges on Shivraj government and created unrest among the tribal population.