Notify a scheme to solicit CSR funds for eradicating invasive species in forests, HC directs TN Govt.

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The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Tamil Nadu government to notify a scheme inviting corporates to contribute funds for eradicating the exotic and invasive species from forests and hill stations. It also ordered that the scheme be publicised among the chambers of commerce.

Justices N. Sathish Kumar and D. Bharatha Chakravarthy directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF)-cum-Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) to prepare a draft scheme and forward it to the government for notification.

The judges made it clear that the corporates must be involved in the task as and when they came forward.

The orders were passed after advocate Rahul Balaji told the court that funds under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) could be tapped into for eradicating the invasive species only if the government came up with a scheme explaining how the money would be spent and the intended impact of the project.

PCCF-cum-CWW Srinivas R. Reddy, who was present in the court to appear in a contempt of court plea related to the electrocution of elephants, concurred with Mr. Balaji and said his office would frame a scheme as it was done for soliciting CSR funds to maintain zoos by giving income tax benefits.

The court recorded the submission and adjourned the hearing to June 8 for a status report to be filed. In the report filed on Tuesday, the Forest Department told the court that Senna spectabilis had been removed from 119 hectares in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve and 3,233 tonnes had been harvested.

Similarly, the invasive species had been removed from 57 acres in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and 3,088 tonnes had been harvested. Work was also underway to remove blue gum and wattle, and a government order was issued recently allotting unsold timber to Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited, the court was told.

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