Panaji, March 16 (IANS) Under the flak for derecognising the coconut palm as a tree, Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Wednesday promised a string of measures to promote cultivation and enhance the production of coconuts.
During his speech in the ongoing budget session of Goa legislative assembly, Parsekar said that “full fledged” coconut board, headed by an expert, would be set up in Goa.
“Coconut is a horticulture crop and its cutting needs to be controlled by the agriculture department, not the forest department… A no-objection certificate from agriculture department will now be made mandatory for felling of coconut trees. Orders to this effect will be issued soon,” Parsekar said.
The controversial amendment to the Goa, Daman and Diu Protection of Trees Act, which derecognised coconut palm as a tree, was passed by the assembly in January.
The amendment allowed cutting of coconut trees without the mandatory sanction of the environment and forest department.
It was formally accorded assent by Governor Mridula Sinha last week, Parsekar said.
The opposition and the environmentalists have slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government for moving the bill which, they said, will facilitate “mass massacre of coconut trees in the state”.
Parsekar has argued that the amendment would allow farmers to cut down old and non-productive coconut trees without getting entangled in red tape.
Blaming the opposition for trying to politicise the “coconut issue”, Parsekar in his budget speech also announced the enhancement of coconut support price from Rs.8 per nut to Rs.10 per nut.
“A full-fledged coconut development board will be formed and chaired by a prominent farmer or an expert from the field, and will not have politicians,” Parsekar said.