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Gurgaon: Environment minister, CM ask people to plant two crore saplings within a year

The state has less than 4% forest cover and the government aims to increase this to 10% over the next three years.

gurgaon Updated: Jun 17, 2017 23:46 IST
Ipsita Pati
Ipsita Pati
Hindustan Times
Dr. Harsh Vardhan,Moef,Aravallis
Union minister for environment Dr Harsh Vardhan (in jacket) plants a sapling in Bhondsi village on Saturday.(Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

Union minister of environment, forest and climate change Dr Harsh Vardhan and Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar urged people to plant two crore saplings within a year to protect the Aravallis.

They were speaking at an event to mark the World Day to Combat Desertification, at Bhondsi on Saturday.

The appeal by the two leaders follows a survey by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) which showed that 12 vegetation gaps have appeared in the Aravallis and pointed to its desertification.

“Everyone should contribute to the environment and reduce carbon footprint. This will reduce global warming, which is a big concern globally,” Dr Vardhan said.

“Planting a sapling and taking care of it is not a huge responsibility at all,” he added.

Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar emphasised on the need to create awareness about the Aravallis. He said that the Aravalli hills are under threat due to illegal mining, felling of trees and pressure from urbanisation. About 32% of the total land area in the country is affected by land degradation, which is a major concern, he said.

Read more: Aravallis could lose vegetation, become barren, says survey

The Aravalli range has a significant role in combating desertification as it is the oldest mountain fold in India and runs from Delhi to Rajasthan, Khattar said, adding that the plan is to revive the existing programmes and protect the forest area.

“As many as 7,797 wardens and 7,800 volunteers will be deployed in forest areas to protect the Aravallis and spread awareness,” Khattar said. Asked about the Mangarbani grove, he said that the area comes under ‘protected zone’ and soon steps will be taken to protect it.

The state has less than 4% of forest cover and the government aims to increase this to 10% over the next three years.

However, environmental activists claim that isolated events, such as World Day to Combat Desertification, fail to address environmental issues. “The government should keep all premission related to felling of trees, construction, real estate and change of land use, on hold till an order from Supreme Court clarifies the definition of forest areas in the state,” said Chetan Agarwal, environmentalist.

First Published: Jun 17, 2017 23:43 IST