Maharashtra: Make them ‘greenagers’, forest dept urges education officials


In an effort to make the “Green Maharashtra” programme successful, the forest and education department are deliberating on announcing a holiday on July 1 for schools and colleges. Although the decision has not been taken yet, the state government departments are in talks “to ensure that there is maximum participation from school and college students.”

The objective behind the programme is to rope in youngsters from across the state and make them plant 2 crore trees in one day.

The forest department has already dispatched the letter to the education department but is to yet hear from them
while the education department officials said that “no decision has been taken yet” on such a request. “There is a committee that will be looking into such requests,” said a senior education official.

With 2 crore saplings to be planted in one day, the forest department has decided to hold special programmes for schools and colleges, and initiated steps to request the education department to consider their request. However, the education department is yet to give its final decision.

“This is a unique initiative as for the first time, such a volume of saplings will be planted on the same day and there would be an officer monitoring it on an hourly basis. We are roping in schoolchildren and college students, and we could have better enforcement of drive if the day is declared a holiday,”said Satyajit Gujar, deputy conservator of forests on the project Green Maharashtra.

With the state having only 20 per cent green cover against the required 33 per cent, the initiative has been taken up by the forest department. Of the total of 307 lakh hectare, only 61.37 lakh hectare will be under the green cover as per their report.

“The depleting green cover is a major cause for climate change. We have taken up this initiative to plant 2 crore saplings within a day of which 1.50 crore saplings will be planted by the forest department and the rest by remaining departments, schools, colleges and even societies. We have set a target of 2 crore saplings but we look forward to an even better number,” said the forest official.

The forest department, on its part, said that this will help increase the green cover, maintain ecological and environmental balance and conserve the forest cover.

Instructions have been issued to all the offices where they have been given a break up of saplings to be planted on the premise, other offices as well by each officer. Private firms too can help out through their corporate social responsibility and the principal secretary of forest department will coordinate and monitor the development of this programme.

The idea is not just to plant and forget but to nurture the saplings too. In the previous government’s regime, a 100-crore tree plantation drive was initiated over three months of the monsoon period by the department, however, the officials said that whether these saplings planted survived was not monitored.

For this drive, a special software has been designed that will identify the locations for these plantations and they would be monitored through GPS and other online facilities. The person concerned has to upload the progress of the programme, what kind of sapling has been planted, number of saplings and information of locations are to be uploaded on the devoted website so that the progress can be minutely monitored by the government. For monitoring at the district level, committees have been formed to monitor the work.

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