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Wednesday, Oct 13, 2004

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New Haryana plan to redress traders' woes soon

Rajesh Ahuja

A Rs 286-crore afforestation project has been launched with the assistance of Japan Bank.

Chandigarh , Oct. 12

THE Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, would shortly launch another programme `Sarkar vyapariyon ke dwar' to redress the grievances of the traders at their doorsteps.

This was decided at a meeting presided over by the Chief Minister here to review the functioning of the Excise and Taxation Department.

Mr Chautala said the 12th Finance Commission, which visited Haryana recently, was all praise for the steps taken to improve the tax structure in the State.

He expressed concern over the issue that while on one hand, the Central Government had been urging the States to introduce value-added tax (VAT) system to ensure uniformity of tax structure in the entire country; on the other, it had given certain incentives in Central excise duty and income-tax waivers to Himachal Pradesh and Uttranchal, thereby, creating a disparity in the tax structure.

His regime had already brought this anomaly before the Centre, he added.

Senior officers pointed out that the sales tax collection had increased from Rs 1,610 crore in 1998-99 to Rs 3,844 crore during the last financial year. The Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr S.N. Roy, said that Haryana was the only State in the country to implement VAT.

Meanwhile, a Rs 286-crore afforestation project has been launched in Haryana with the assistance of Japan Bank to bring an area of 48,800 hectares under green cover, according to Mr Chautala who was presiding over a meeting to review the working of the Forests Department.

The Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Forests, Mr L.S.M. Salins, said that the implementation of the project had commenced this year and it would continue up to 2011.

During this year, apart from developing nurseries to raise saplings, villages would be identified and earth work would be undertaken for raising plants. While referring to other projects being funded by international aid, he said that an area of 23,906 hectares had already been brought under plantation under the Haryana Community Afforestation Project being funded by the European Union. The project would remain functional up to 2008.

Mr Chautala appreciated that over 20 crore saplings were planted during the tenure of the present Government. The target to plant five crore saplings during the current financial year should be achieved and efforts should be made to protect these plants.

It was informed that according to the report of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, the forest cover of Haryana had increased by 790 sq. km. from the year1999 to 2001.

Haryana had a total forest cover of 1.55 lakh hectares, out of which 24,960 hectares were reserve forests and the protected forests covered an area of about 1.16 lakh hectares.

Mr Chautala, who also reviewed the functioning of the Wildlife Wing of the Department, appreciated the efforts being made for breeding of vultures

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