Disciplined in spacing and growth,the maturing trees on either side of the 7-km stretch of road from Walgaon to Khartalegaon in Amravati district catches ones attention. They are among the few examples of MNREGS work well done in Maharashtra.
The 11 km from Khartalegaon to Dhamori (part of the Daryapur-Amravati state highway),the 67 km from Vishnora to Khed Road and the 6 km from Morshi to Pimpalkhed are similarly treed. And they are just a few of several stretches totalling 651 km in the five districts of Amravati division that have seen roadside plantation and preservation in the past two years by a team of the social forestry department led by its deputy director general Dilip Singh,chief conservator of forest.
We have achieved a survival rate of 90 per cent, Singh says,which means over five lakh plants have been kept alive and brought to a level from where they are sure to survive.
The strike rate contrasts with plantation works that generally get started with gusto but end up in failure with little post-plantation care like safeguarding them from cattle and toppling. The difference was made by undertaking the project under MNREGS. It made available not only funds but also labourers to take care of the plants, Dilip Singh says.
Over 2,100 labourers were employed in two years,generating 40,000 mandays of work. Each labourer takes care of 200 plants.
Ponds with poly-sheets covering the bottom have been created by the roadside to store water. A hand-cart ferries water cans along the stretch to water the plants during summer.
Its exemplary work done by the social forestry department. There would be very few such examples of plantations not just surviving but thriving, says V Giriraj,principal secretary,EGS,Maharashtra.
The work also assumes significance against the backdrop of Maharashtras plan to increase its forest cover by planting and growing 100 crore trees in five years.
I was asked to plant 10 lakh samples. I said I would rather plant only five lakh and ensure 100 per cent survival than go for unrealistic targets where most plants would die an untimely death, says Singh.
Roadside plantation isnt the only work Singh has been busy with. He has also popularised a smokeless chulha in villages. We didnt give them a new chulha. We just rebuilt the old one by introducing an iron grill below it to allow air to pass and thus ensure proper oxygen supply. The usual chulhas emit a lot of smoke since the fire doesnt get proper oxygen and cannot burn in full flame, says Singh.
It reduces fuel-wood consumption by 50 per cent,he says. Villagers,who get the grill free,agree they need less wood. It has reduced our firewood consumption drastically. Moreover,there is no smoke now and our eyes get protected automatically, says Zarina Parvez of Nimkhed.