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Plantation schemes await cabinet nod for implementation

IANS  |  Coonoor (Tamil Nadu) 

Development schemes for the plantation sector are waiting for cabinet approval for implementation by the commodity boards and other stakeholders, a top official said here Tuesday.

"The final schemes for the plantation sector have been sent for cabinet approval, which is expected in a month or two," commerce ministry's additional secretary Rajani Ranjan Rashmi told reporters here, about 520 km from Chennai.

Though the schemes were to be implemented since fiscal 2012-13, inordinate delay in approving the 12th five-year plan (2012-17) by the previous Congress-led government has put paid to the efforts of the stakeholders in achieving the set growth targets.

The schemes include re-plantation, quality upgradation, value addition, skill development and mechanisation for higher yields, better returns and variety to boost exports.

"As some of the schemes of the 11th plan (2007-12) could not be fully implemented before the 12th plan period commenced, they are continuing with additions, improvements and modifications," Rashmi said on the margins of the 121st annual conference of the United Planters Association of Southern India (Upasi).

As the first two years of the 12th plan period lapsed in March this year, and the development schemes remained on paper, the ministry has decided to increase budgetary allocation to them and change the norms for making up the lost time.

"The development schemes of the 11th plan will be continued in the 12th plan to achieve the revised growth targets. Commodity boards have been implementing some of the schemes like re-plantation as per the 11th plan norms," Rashmi said.

On the demand of rubber planters for safeguards against rising imports and falling prices in the domestic market, the official said a new policy was in the offing to address the concerns, especially of small growers.

"A committee was formed in July to draft the new policy. We have held the first meeting Aug 4 to study the issues raised by the planters. Second meeting is due this month. Hopefully, we will come out with the draft of the new policy by year-end," Rashmi said.

Earlier, addressing about 500 planters and other stakeholders at the conference, the official said the plantation sector should make use of the compensatory afforestation fund for protecting the environment.

The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (Campa) was set up by the union environment and forests ministry on the directive of the Supreme Court with a corpus of Rs.20,000 crore for utilisation by states for environment protection measures.

"The plantation sector and state governments should jointly prepare project proposals to make use of the fund, which is supervised by the apex court for protecting the environment and promoting the 'Green India Mission'," Rashmi said.

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First Published: Tue, September 09 2014. 18:26 IST