Tree planting drive planned

THE HINDU [6 JUNE, 2002]
By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI JUNE 5. A massive afforestation programme would be undertaken by various government agencies, which would entail plantation of around 7.50 lakh trees during 2002-03. The focus would be to increase green cover along railway tracks, drains, roadsides, Gram Sabha land, city forests, Ridge, Asola Bhati wildlife sanctuary, protected forest and along the banks of Yamuna.

Releasing the Green Delhi Action Plan on the occasion of World Environment Day today, the Delhi Environment Minister, Deep Chand Bandhu, said seedlings of various species are being raised in 15 nurseries located at different sites in Delhi. Seedlings are distributed free of cost to various government and non- government institutions and the public for plantation. During the current financial year, the Department is expected to distribute about 2.50 lakh seedlings free of cost through its nurseries besides planting another 2.75 lakh saplings. The various agencies like DDA, MCD, NDMC, PWD, CPWD, Horticulture Department, Territorial Army and Forest Department would plant around 7.35 lakh trees.

He said to increase the recreational and aesthetic values of city forests, the city forests of Hauzrani, Alipur and Anand Vihar have been developed. Different kinds of fruit species, tree species, shrubs and climbers had been planted during the past few years. The Nasirpur city forest would be opened for public this year. Ten more such city forests are in the process of being developed as educational, picnic and meditation spots.

Forest Department was augmenting natural regeneration in the Southern Ridge, especially in sanctuary habit, through enrichment planting of mainly indigenous species of the area combined with extensive soil and moisture conservation measures like trenching and pitting, construction of water harvesting structures like check dams. During 2002-03, DDA has made available 277 acres of land to the Forest Department on the banks of Yamuna at Ghari Mandu. The programme of tree plantation on the river banks has been launched today and a total of 1.35 lakh trees would be planted on these banks.

Mr. Bandhu said this year Action Plan has decided to concentrate only on plantation of trees and not shrubs. Every agency has been asked to strive hard to achieve at least 10 per cent higher survival percentage than the previous year. It had also been decided to organise "one week plantation drive'' in residential colonies and schools in association with Resident Welfare Associations and various schools. The government agencies have been directed to ask the schools in their areas to adopt small areas outside their campuses. The school children would be asked to work as "tree police'' and the trees planted would be looked after by these children.

The Environment Minister said it has now been proposed to start composting in all nurseries and parks. The main thrust of the plan continues to be encouraging people's willing participation. To elicit a positive support from the public, the government would be launching a massive awareness campaign motivating citizens to join the efforts of all the agencies to green Delhi and free distribution of saplings by the Forest Department. At the grassroots level, it had been decided to organise "Vanamahotsava'' in schools and residential colonies to impress upon the people to plant at least one tree per family in their surroundings, nurture and protect it.

Mr. Bandhu said the forest cover, which had increased from 22 sq km to 88 sq km during the Sheila Dikshit Government's tenure, would further go up after the intensive drive launched by the Delhi Government to green Delhi.