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To encourage green crusaders, forest department seeks audit of plantation drives

The forest department has asked all government authorities that took up large-scale plantation drives to share information about trees that have germinated and are growing successfully as of now. The possible aim of this move is to ensure the public that their efforts will bear fruit and to encourage people to take part in the upcoming drive to plant 33 crore trees across the state.

Last month, unidentified miscreants had set lakhs of trees on fire in the villages of Ambernath. These trees were planted during various public plantation drives undertaken by Kalyan MP Shrikant Shinde. Two such incidents were reported in a fortnight which pushed Shinde to seek an audit of the trees.

Shinde, however, said: “Instead of giving out the number of trees, the concerned authorities must ensure more trees are not burnt down and that those involved in the crime are punished.”

So, on Thursday, in a meeting held with forest officials and district collectors among others, Vikas Kharge, Secretary of Revenue and Forest Department, Maharashtra, asked them to post information on the trees planted so far. “Till date, over over 19 crore trees have been planted across Maharashtra under various plantation drives. Kharge asked all the departments to upload information on the trees that have survived so far,” said Anniruddh Ashtaputre, District Information Officer, Thane District Collectorate.

In the year 2019, the state plans to undertake a massive drive to plant 33 crore trees. Accordingly, all the department heads were instructed to keep plots of land ready for the drive by making digging the pits and fertilising them by March, 2019. They were also asked to not plant trees with a kilometre of rivers and encouraged to plant fruits and bamboo trees on private land. “They were also asked to enlist public participation in huge numbers and tie-up with corporates and NGOs to support the drive,” he added.