Haryana government will plant 2 lakh saplings, says forest minister
Rao Narbir Singh, a resident of Civil Lines in Gurugram, promised a more effective planting drive this year compared to the efforts of previous years.Updated: Jun 05, 2018 09:23 IST
Haryana’s forest minister Rao Narbir Singh is determined to increase the green cover in the state this year. In an interview to HT on the eve of World Environment Day, Singh said development of infrastructure was the need of the hour.
“When development takes place, trees have to be cut. Be it road widening, new highways, railways, buildings or other infrastructure, trees have to give way to development,” said Singh who is also the minister of Public Works Department (buildings and roads). The minister also said that the forest department is stepping up efforts to increase the green cover this year and over two lakh saplings will be planted in forest areas across the state over the next couple of months.
Haryana has registered minimal growth of just 0.02% in forest cover as per the Forest Survey of India (FSI) 2017 report. The report mentioned a decadal decrease of five square kilometres in the water body coverage within forest as compared to 2005. There were 21 square kilometres of water bodies in 2005 which declined to 16 square kilometres in 2015.
A resident of Civil Lines in Gurugram, the minister promised a more effective planting drive this year compared to the efforts of previous years.
“Ped kattate hain to ped lagte bhi hain (if trees are cut, they are planted too). You will see change this time. We have been planting trees earlier. But this monsoon, we will plant lakhs of saplings. We will start quickly after it rains and ensure the saplings sustain,” said Singh.
There are 85 forest committees involving villagers for carrying out afforestation activities.
Singh did not provide specifics for the survival rate of saplings planted in the past. “Some (saplings) survive, some die, but it is an ongoing process,” he said.
When asked about the increased instances of tree chopping in Gurugram’s Aravalli Forest, Singh said villagers often cut trees even though the department monitors the situation.
A ground truthing exercise conducted in June 2016, in the Aravalli Forest, had revealed that planting saplings did not help increase green cover because their survival rate was around 20% . Ground truthing is a process by which ground-level data is collected by officials by verifying old revenue records, remote sensing and aerial photography, satellite or infrared images.
“I appeal people to make least use of paper so that lesser trees are cut for that purpose,” said Singh, who chose to not print invitation cards for his son’s wedding in March this year. The minister also urged the public to help with afforestation. “It is responsibility of every person to plant at least one tree on birthdays,” he said.