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Fatalities caused by man-animal conflicts must be checked: Rajib Banerjee

Kolkata: State Forest minister Rajib Banerjee said on Friday that apart from conservation of forest and wildlife, his priority will be to minimise fatalities resulting from man-animal conflict in the state. Banerjee instructed his officials to come up with a master plan to make Sunderbans more attractive for tourists and take measures to increase the mangrove cover.

Banerjee held a meeting with officials of his department at Aranya Bhavan to take stock of functioning of the various wings and staff strength of the department .

"There are only two states in the country that has seen an increase in its forest cover. Bengal is one of them. I have asked my officials to take steps to increase green cover to reduce pollution. We are coming up with a master plan for boosting the tourism potential of Sunderbans along with a concrete plan of augmenting the mangrove cover of Sunderbans. Security will be strengthened to prevent poaching," Banerjee said.

Environmentalists had said the mangrove cover of the Sunderbans had acted as a shield against the cyclone, Bulbul that had hit the state on November 9. It was found that the areas located in close proximity to the mangrove cover witnessed lesser devastation. Some of the areas in and around Sagar Islands, where mangrove cover is minimum was badly affected by the cyclone, while in the eastern part of these affected places, where there is mangrove cover, the effect of the cyclone was found to be lesser.

Banerjee said his department will also come up with a master plan for development of Bengal Safari Park in Siliguri.

"I will be visiting all the forest areas in the state to examine the potential of development in all these areas. I will begin with Sunderbans and then will go to North Bengal," he added.

A senior official of the department who attended the meeting said that the minister has urged all the officials to cut down on unnecessary expenditure.

Banerjee who took over as the Forest minister on November 18 had already held a meeting with senior officials of the department on Monday.

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