Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren Friday announced that the government will provide five units free electricity for planting and protecting a tree in an individual campus.
The offer is aimed at improving the green cover in urban areas of the state and including every individual in the tree plantation mission.
Speaking at the Van Mahotsab programme here, Soren said, “Keeping in mind the concretisation of urban areas, the government will provide five units free electricity for planting and protecting each tree in an individual campus.” The offer will, however, not be applicable for any plant. “It should be a proper tree, which will help in the conservation of the nature in future,” he said.
The tree cover is on the decline in Jharkhand. An analysis of Forest Survey of India's (FSI) data suggests that tree cover has declined by 47 sq km in the state in the past one decade.
Tree cover is defined as small tree patches and isolated trees outside recorded forest areas, which are less than one hectare in extent. These trees are generally found in urban areas, village woodlots, homestead, along road, canal, near railway lines and as scattered trees.
Jharkhand's tree cover was recorded at 2,867 sq km, 3.6% of total geographical area, according to the FSI report 2021. In 2011 it was recorded to be 2,914 sq km.
The state's forest cover has, however, increased to 23,721 sq km, which is 29.76% of total geographical area of the state, in FSI 2021 up from 22,977 sq km recorded in FSI 2011.
“Growing urbanisation is a big threat to the environment as it is leading to the disappearance of greenery from cities. We should not forget that Jharkhand remained comparatively protected from COVID-19 pandemic, which was possible only because the state is blessed with greenery,” Soren said. There is a race for development, but it should not be at the cost of nature. “I am not against development, but am against destroying nature,” he said.
Soren expressed concern over a proposed amendment by the Centre. “I have heard that the Centre is working on an amendment under which permission will not be required for felling tree. If that happens, Jharkhand forests will not remain safe,” he said.
The chief minister also said that the nexus between forest officials and sawmills operators was worrying. “Sawmills are operating in the middle of the forests. I am not able to believe that they are functioning without the knowledge of forest officials. So, I have recently ordered to shut all sawmills operating within five km radius of protected forests in Jharkhand,” he said.
A senior forest official said the government has set a target to plant 2.34 crore saplings this monsoon to increase the state's forest cover. Last year 1.8 crore saplings had been planted during the season.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)