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Maharashtra undertakes huge plantation drive to create awareness about preserving environment

In a first attempt of its kind to create awareness about preserving environment, the Maharashtra government will plant two crore saplings on July 1. The State government announced that anyone could join the drive at any place of their choice.
Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar today called the Prime Minister and invited him for the same.

“We are going to plant two crore saplings of 450 species across the state. We will announce the venue and timing of the plantation drive so that the common people could join us too,” said Mungantiwar

“The idea of running a plantation drive clicked to me when I became the minister (in October 2014). People used to garland me as a mark of appreciation. My wife pointed that those garlands go waste. ‘Why don’t you ask them to gift you a sapling instead of that’? she had asked me that time. I am working on her instructions now,” Mungantiwar said in a lighter vein.

The plantation drive will be run entirely through public participation.
“We already have created 1.75 crore pits ready for the plantation. We have decided to allow public participation in this drive for two reasons. First, we have an inadequate staff of 27,000 employees. Second, I want people to join us in preserving the environment,” Mungantiwar said.

The forest department has set a target of saplings plantation for each of its 36 districts. Other government departments have also been asked to join the drive. The Art of Living Foundation and Patanjali Yoga Peeth will also join the drive along with the Railways.
The department has planned to set up a permanent committee to take care of the planted saplings. The committee will be responsible if the sapling is damaged. “We will hand over 70 percent of the planted saplings to women’s self help groups to take their care,” Mungantiwar said.

Praveen Pardeshi, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, has suggested that the committee members should be paid remuneration based on the saplings’ life. “The care takers should be paid only if 80 percent saplings grow and sustain for at least three years. Otherwise there will be no accountability and they will not take the matter seriously,” he said.

The Defense Ministry too has promised the State government that it will also plant saplings in the drought affected Marathwada region by raising a special force of the retired servicemen.
The force to be named as “Green Battalion” will be assigned a task to find out areas suitable for the plantation.

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