Punjab will soon launch an extensive plantation drive across the State to increase forest and tree cover from existing seven per cent to 15 per cent over a period of 15 years on all available institutional lands, panchayat lands, mandis, police lines, jails, paramilitary areas, hospitals, educational institutions, cremation grounds, focal points, PSEB colonies, urban and peri-urban areas and farm forestry.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal issued the directions and asked the State Forests and Wildlife Preservation Department to launch the drive. He also emphasised the need to improve productivity and stocking of existing forest areas besides imparting professional training to the forest guards to ensure that trees grow straight. He also underscored the need for massive plantation across the major roads in the State over an identified area of 300 acres besides introduction of tree spade technology for transplanting of fully grown trees.
Badal would also launch the green Punjab mission from Hoshiarpur and Fazilka on July 1 to generate awareness amongst the masses about the clean and pollution-free environment by initiating massive plantation drive across the State.
Giving a power point presentation on the scenario of forest and wildlife in Punjab, Principal chief conservator of the forests apprised the Chief Minister that green Punjab mission has become all the more important in the present context with constant increase in levels of air pollution caused due to heavy vehicular and industrial influx besides alarming proportions of water pollution due to polluted river and ground water. Even the soil pollution due to excessive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, coupled with water logging and rise of salinity in Punjab had further aggravated the environmental problems in the State. He said that trees and forest could play a crucial role in regulating our climate besides mitigating environmental pollution and degrading.
Punjab has one of the lowest area under forest cover at 5.04 per cent as compared to country’s 23.41 per cent and 31 per cent of the world.
In the meeting, Badal asked the rural development & panchayats department to motivate the village panchayats for plantation of trees on over 1,50,000 acres of panchayat land as the Punjab Vidhan Sabha had already passed resolution to plant trees on 20 per cent of panchayat lands. He sought cooperation and support from the farmers for the implementations of the State Government’s initiatives for greening Punjab.
Forest Minister Surjit Kumar Jayani said the State forests department had already prepared a 15 years perspective plan with a mission to enhance the forest area under greening Punjab campaign.
“The jurisdiction of forest beats was being revised to cover forest as well as non-forest areas. The new beat boundaries would now be village wise and all villages in the State would be covered by the forest beats,” he said. The minister said that the newly-recruited 180 forest guards were being properly trained to handle the assignment of promoting tree plantation in villages.