The Maharashtra government started an ambitious plantation drive last year to increase the forest cover in the state to 33 per cent of the total land area. Over a period of five years, the state aims to plant 50 crore saplings. Last year, 2.8 crore saplings were planted and from July 1, another 4 crore will be planted.
Vivek Khandekar, Chief Conservator of Forests (Territorial), Pune and Solapur, told Pune Newsline that the aim of the programme was to increase the forest cover in the state from the current 20 per cent to the nationally mandated 33 per cent of Maharashtra’s land area.
In 2018, the aim is to plant 13 crore saplings while another 33 crore saplings will be planted in 2019. “In Pune district, we will plant at least 22.1 lakh saplings, of which 6.7 lakh will be planted on forest land. There are 63 sites in Pune and 58 in Solapur belonging to the forest department where saplings will be planted,” said Khandekar.
On July 1, District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat will be the chief guest at a function organised at Mundhwa to plant saplings. To ensure involvement of residents in the tree plantation programme, the forest department has set up a scheme ‘Rope aplya Daari’ (home delivery of saplings).
From June 25 to July 5, the forest department has also set up 12 stalls which sell plants from their own nurseries. Insufficient manpower with the forest department also led to the start of a Green Army and officials urged residents to register with this new initiative.