Agra: A massive greening drive is to be launched soon to curb environmental pollution in the eco-sensitive Taj Trapezium Zone of Agra spread over 10,400 sq km (square kilometre), said officials on Friday. Alarmed at the sharp pace of denudation due to the large-scale construction and expansion of infrastructural facilities, the Uttar Pradesh government has announced a target of planting 22 crore saplings by the end of August, said Forest Department officials. Agra’s green cover is just around 6.5 per cent while UP’s share has come down to 19.5 per cent against the national goal of 33 per cent, they pointed out.
Accordingly, against the last year’s target of planting 9 crore saplings, the state government has planned to plant 22 crore saplings this year, they added. Agra’s target has been fixed at planting 28.57 lakh saplings, they said.
Out of the 28.57 saplings, the Forest Department alone will plant 8.60 lakh saplings while other departments will plant 19.9 lakh. All government departments are presently busy identifying sites for planting saplings, they said, adding they are also looking for partners in the greening venture.
In a bid to give impetus to the drive, the government has roped in village panchayats too, besides around two crore beneficiaries of various government schemes in rural areas, said officials. Each beneficiary is expected to plant 10 saplings, they added. But many environmental activists expressed skepticism over the government’s ambitious plan.
They wonder if enough land is available in Agra to plant as many saplings and if the government would ensure enough care to nurture them. Shravan Kumar Singh, a green activist said,
Last year saplings were hastily and haphazardly planted. The result was most failed to survive as there was neither follow up nor proper care.
The government officials, however, sounded upbeat on the greening campaign. This year, a large number of saplings are to be planted along the Yamuna river bank in Agra, they said, adding sapling distribution will begin from Monday. Officials said,
The whole exercise is likely to be completed by August end. Monitoring by independent observers will ensure transparency in the campaign.
The district authorities this year will be experimenting with planting saplings along the Yamuna river bank on lines of plantation in Mathura district, they said, adding the Yamuna Mission has successfully greened several kilometres along Yamuna using drain water.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.