Guwahati, Nov 12: A French delegation led by Country Director of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) India Bruno Bosle today called on Assam’s Minister of Environment & Forest, Chandra Mohan Patowary at latter’s office chamber at Janata Bhawan today and discussed about the status of project implementation in the sphere of bio-diversity protection in Assam.
It is to be mentioned that the Assam Project on Forest and Biodiversity Conservation is co-funded by the AFD and the Government of Assam to pave a way for conserving forests and the state’s biodiversity while improving the livelihood of the forest-dependent communities.
The first phase of the project was implemented from 2012 to 2019. The second phase was launched in 2019 to contribute to the conservation of nature for a healthier ecosystem and empowered forest dwelling communities by integrating a holistic approach. The total budget of Phase II is 62.5 million Euros (Rs 500 crore) of which AFD’s share is 80% of the total budget - 50 million Euros (Rs 400 crore) and 20% i.e. 12.5 million Euros (Rs 100 crore) is the State’s share.
Out of 12,500 hectares of targeted plantations of the project, 8,992 hectares have already been achieved. The overall achievement is 71.88% of the target. A baseline survey covering 2,039 households and a market assessment study covering 65 JFMCs and EDCs has been conducted along with a participatory rural appraisal to understand the development needs of the forest dependent communities. Moreover, a livelihood and market Strategy along with a convergence Strategy has been developed to facilitate in convergence and livelihood augmentation of the 265 communities.
During its visit to Assam, the AFD team had also participated in the ONFI (French Forest Service International) kick-off workshop held at Kaziranga on November 11. Apart from Kaziranga, the delegation also visited The Orang National Park, Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary, Manas National Park, and Nameri National Park, to understand the aspects of landscape connectivity, flood management, functional corridors, human-wildlife conflict management, habitat management and anti-poaching mechanisms, among others, in Assam.
During the meeting, the French delegation reiterated French Government’s commitment to strengthen Assam Government’s efforts for protection of bio-diversity and increase green cover in the state. The team also stressed on the speedy disbursement of project funds so that targets can be achieved on time.
Forest Minister Patowary, while thanking the AFD delegation for its continuous support and advance release of funds for the project, assured that all cooperation would be extended from the Forest Department for achieving the targets within stipulated timeframe. He also said that steps would be taken for including the funds received from AFD for the project in Supplementary Budget during the winter session of the Assam Legislative Assembly in December for speedy disbursement.
Informing about the State Government’s target of increasing Assam’s forest cover to 38% from present 36%, Patowary said that the AFD and French Government’s projects would go long way in achievement of the goal and he urged the delegation to launch more such projects in Assam for protection of bio-diversity and ecology.
Additional Chief Secretary of Forest Department Ravi Shankar Prasad, PCCF and HoFF M.K. Yadava were also present during the meeting. Laura Buis - TasK team Leader - AFD Paris, Akshita Sharma - Sector Portfolio Manager, AFD India, Emanuel Fourmann - Economist, AFD Paris were the other members of AFD delegation.