UP plantation drive: Most saplings may not make it to trees
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UP plantation drive: Most saplings may not make it to trees

Activists have raised concerns about the poor survival rate of saplings after drives such as the state’s recent 24-hour plantation drive

noida Updated: Jul 12, 2016 01:56 IST
Gautam Budh Nagar,district forest department,Forest Survey of India
Despite regular plantation drives, data shows that the forest cover of Ghaziabad district has shrunk from 116 sq km in 2001 to 49 sq km in 2015.(Sakib Ali/HT Photo)

The UP government may be trying to plant a record five crore saplings in its current state-wide plantation drive, but environmental activists have raised concerns about the poor survival rate of plants after such drives.

The district forest departments of Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar on Monday took part in the 24-hour drive to plant 80,060 and 1.10 lakh saplings in both the districts, respectively.

Agencies like Ghaziabad’s district forest department claim a survival rate of 95%, 80% and 60% in the first, second and third year after plantation, respectively.

However, according to the Forest Survey of India’s report, the district’s forest cover has fallen from 116 sq km in 2001 to 49 sq km in 2015. The FSI report of 2013 put the district’s forest cover at 50 sq km, meaning that despite annual plantation drives, Ghaziabad’s forest cover declined by 1 sq km in two years. “This belies the claims of high survival rate of plants. Survival of plants is marred by growing infrastructure and housing needs. The unfavourable weather conditions coupled with loose and poor-quality soil in the region needs lesser plantations with increased maintenance up to four years till the plants grow up. This would bring fruitful results in the short term as well,” said Akash Vashistha, an environment activist.

He added that his NGO had planted nearly 3,100 trees in August 2015 in collaboration with the GDA, but only 40% of them survived. He also wrote to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in March 2016 requesting him to bring an order to cut down the annual plantation targets and make plantation maintenance mandatory for four years. This year too, the GDA received an annual plantation target of nearly 1.6 lakh trees for 2016-17.

Vashishtha also communicated the issue to Sanjeev Saran, UP principal secretary – environment & forest. The official later directed his department to look into the issue of poor survival rate of plants.

In Gautam Budh Nagar, the state government has asked authorities in Noida and Greater Noida to plant 6.5 lakh saplings in the ongoing monsoon. District forest department officials said that they hope 90% of the trees planted in the drive will survive.

“In the last 10 years, 42% of trees that the department planted in the district survived. This is considered a good survival rate in the forest department. This time we will take more precautions so that we achieve a 90% survival rate,” said HV Girish, divisional forest officer, Gautam Budh Nagar.

He added, however, that the survey to measure survival is conducted only once a decade. UP principal chief conservator of forests, Umendra Kumar Sharma, too said it is difficult to assess the rate for previous years’ plantations.

“However, in our five-crore plantation drive, we are making efforts that all saplings survive. We have roped in irrigation facilities such as borewells, canals and also provided manure etc. During the drive, we have undertaken plantation of taller trees so that they survive well,” he added.

First Published: Jul 12, 2016 01:52 IST