Goa considering Kerala-like coconut development board

Panaji:After derecognising the coconut palm as a tree, Goa Agriculture Minister Ramesh Tawadkar on Friday said his Ministry was in the process of forming a Coconut Development Board a la Kerala. "There should be a coconut board, I also agree. We are going through the documentation of the central government's coconut board and the Kerala Coconut Development Board and are planning how the board should be in Goa and how we can promote the coconut," Tawadkar said. He was speaking in the Goa assembly while replying to a private member's resolution moved by Bharatiya Janata Party's Pramod Sawant. Tawadkar also slammed the opposition for spreading rumours that the coconut palm had been reduced to the status of grass.  "Coconut is not grass for us, it is a kalpvruksha (a mythical boon-granting tree)," Tawadkar said. The Goa government in March had formally derecognised the coconut palm as a tree under the Goa, Daman and Diu Preservation of Trees Act, 1984. Opposition and environmentalists have slammed the BJP-led coalition government for passing the bill which, they say, will facilitate "mass massacre of coconut trees in the state". Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said the law was amended to allow coconut farmers to cull old and non-productive trees without being caught in red tape. The Congress has said that if voted to power in 2017, it would accord the status of "state tree" to the coconut palm. IANS