Amid pandemic, forest department to hold plantation drive with help from paramilitary forcesUpdated: Jul 01, 2020 23:21 IST
With most officials engaged in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and citizens unlikely to be roped in for the state’s annual mass plantation drive set to be held on July 5, the Noida administration has turned to paramilitary forces.
According to an Uttar Pradesh government order dated May 8, the state will plant 250 million saplings during the one-day event, of which Gautam Budh Nagar will be expected to plant 850,000. Last year, the drive was held on August 15 and over a million saplings were planted through at least 26 different public departments in the district.
Forest department officials said that while they have recruited officials from different departments, they have also sought help from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), both under the central government, and the Uttar Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary (UP-PAC) to meet for the shortfall in staff.
The department did not give an exact number on the number of people they already have and on how many they will require.
“Last year citizens participated in the plantation drive in thousands. This time we are neither expecting nor promoting public participation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ITBP, CRPF and UP-PAC have assured help. Officials of 25 departments have been roped in as well, but the staff shortage is likely to be felt. We have also hired about 2,000 daily wagers to dig the pits and transport the saplings. The estimated expenditure towards this labour is around ₹5 lakh,” said Pramod Kumar Srivastava, divisional forest officer (DFO), GB Nagar.
The department will distribute saplings to villages and houses in the district sectors on Thursday. They will be asked to plant them in their own locality.
According to the CRPF, they will provide as much support as possible.
“We have two battalions -- 221 and 235 -- stationed here that looks after X-plus, Y-plus and Z-plus security of VIPs, but we will provide support and promise to plant at least 45,000 saplings at a Greater Noida site and 45,000 in Noida. We expect to extend support of 100 to 150 personnel, and I can assure that one CRPF jawan will do proper plantation, ensuring survival of at least 1,000 saplings,” said Pradeep Kumar, Assistant Commissioner, CPRF.
Forest department have said that they have also received offers from villages.
“A large part of the drive is held around villages, especially for the timber trees. We have maintained a stock of over 12 lakh healthy saplings of different species including neem, mango, peepal, sahjan, seesam, arjun and banyan including others at five departmental nurseries in the district,” Srivastava said.
ITBP and UP-PAC officials could not be reached for comment.