PATHANAMTHITTA: The government will set up the States first sandalwood oil factory in the public sector at Marayur in Idukki district in the first half of the current financial year itself, Minister of Forests Benoy Viswom has said. The Minister was inaugurating the �Green Mansion and cottage complex constructed as part of the eco-tourism project at Gavi on Friday.
Mr. Viswom said the Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC) would set up the sandalwood oil extraction unit in a time-bound manner. He said the initiatives taken by the Forest Department had considerably reduced the number of sandalwood thefts in the Marayur forests in the past two months.
According to him, only three cases of missing sandalwood were reported from Marayur in January. In February, there were only two cases. The Minister said the department had also launched a drive with public participation to bring an end to sandalwood smuggling from Marayur forests.
Mr. Viswom said the LDF government was planning to plant five crore saplings across the State in five years.
The Minister said eco-tourism had immense potential in a State like Kerala. The government had launched 56 eco-tourism projects across the State and the work on all the schemes were fast progressing, he said.
Raju Abraham, MLA, presided. A. Santhakumari, district panchayat president, E.K.Vijayan, KFDC chairman, Amarnath Shetty, managing director, J.Teggi, Chief Conservator of Forests, C.K.Krishnankutty, S.Haridas, A.Radhakrishnan, P.S.Janardhanan Naikuppa, K.Lohya, all corporation directors and corporation general manager O.P. Kaler spoke.