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In Punjab, men in khaki gun for green cover, with a little help from a Japanese technique

Though the concept is not new to the state, the government departments are doing it together for the first time without any help from the private companies working in this field.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar | December 14, 2020 12:11:19 pm
Mansa SSP Surender Lamba (third from right) and horticulture officer Vipesh Garg (fourth from right) planting tree saplings at an upcoming Miyawaki jungle at Police Lines

Its routine law and order duties apart, the Punjab Police has now taken up another job – one that is bound to leave the state richer in greenery while helping offset the carbon emission. The Mansa unit of the state police is now growing ‘Miyawaki Forests’, a well known Japanese technique through which dense forests are grown in small plots of land, particularly in urban areas, in a relatively shorter period of time.

Though the concept is not new to the state, the government departments are doing it together for the first time without any help from the private companies working in this field.

The Mansa district police has already planted one such forest at the Mansa Police Lines with the help and guidance from state Horticulture Department. The Miyawaki Forest at Mansa Police Lines is coming up on 140 sq yard (less than 6 marlas). The Mansa police is now planning to have 17 more Miyawaki Forests – at all police stations and police posts of the district – in coming six months.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Surender Lamba, who initiated the project at police lines, said that it was the first Miyawaki Forest being grown by any district police in the state.

Lamba says Vipesh Garg, a horticulture department officer posted in the district, provided the technical know-how and “we planted 375 plants of more than 30 varieties, mainly native species of big canopy trees, fruit-bearing trees, flowering (ornamental) and medicinal trees and shrubs.”

“We want to make all our police stations carbon negative by growing such jungles,” he said.

“We are growing the Miyawaki Forest it in an economically viable manner. We spent around Rs 25,000 to procure some plants, and cow dung manure etc,” said SSP, adding that police officials, including SP Satnam Singh and DSP Manoj Gorsi, worked hard to turn the project into reality.

Lamba claimed to have planted 10,000 saplings during his three-year tenure in Ludhiana.

Garg said that IFS officer and Director, Horticulture, Shaileder Kaur provided the necessary help for the project. “While farmers remain our priority, but the department is ready to serve schools and other government departments where such jungles can be grown even in 100 sq yard area,” he said.

Director Kaur said her department was planning to create such Miyawaki Forests “in 4-5 more districts beginning February and gradually we will cover the entire state as these (forests) need very less space” and are a boon for the environment.

“If such jungles are grown in small available vacant places in schools, open places of the government and private offices, and industrial houses then urban areas, which lack green pockets, can be converted into green belts and help neutralize the carbon emission,” said Shubhendu Sharma, the founder of Afforestt, a company, which hasd created 100 such forests across various counties. He said that such jungles mitigate the suspended particulate matter in the air and attract a large number of birds. He informed that as part of 550th birth anniversary celebration of Guru Nanak Dev ji in 2019, nearly 200 such jungles were planted in Punjab, mostly by the private people and some universities. All such forests had 550 saplings each.

 

How are Miyawaki Forests planted and what is the growth rate?

Director, Punjab Horticulture, Shaileder Kaur said that the technique was developed by Japanese Botanist Akira Miyawaki in which three to five saplings are planted per square metre area after the land is prepared by digging upto 3 feet and where the tudi (stubble) and rudi (cow dung) is mixed in soil before the dug up earth is filled back. This process makes land softer and helps in faster growth of the roots of the plants. Around four layers of earth are created to plant shrubs, small trees (upto 6 feet), medium trees (up to 12 feet to 25 feet), and big canopies (upto 40 feet and above). After plantation, earth is covered with a thick layer of stubble, which acts as mulch and retains water for a longer time. In this technique roots grow faster and horizontally creating a net beneath the earth.

“This jungle grows 10 times faster, is 30 times dense, and helps in noise and dust reduction. Such jungles get ready in 20-30 years against the conventional jungle, which grows in 200 to 300 years. These plants need to be looked after for 18 to 24 months,” said Garg, adding that such jungles help in ‘carbon sequestration’, acts as live seed banks of rare native species, invite local insects, birds and biodiversity, and helps in regeneration of local flora and fauna.

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