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Wilt worry over green drive
Agencies to plant 3 lakh saplings

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 24: Like every monsoon, this time too the forest department will take up a massive plantation drive in the city and its outskirts. But a question mark hangs over the survival of the plants.

Various agencies including the Odisha Forest Development Corporation (OFDC), Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), city forest division and Chandaka forest division have decided to plant more than 3 lakh saplings in the city and outskirts.

The OFDC will plant 1 lakh saplings, the city forest division and Chandaka forest division will plant 50,000 saplings each while 1 lakh saplings will be in the hands of the BMC, Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA), corporate houses and non-governmental organisations.

Last year too, the forest division, along with its agencies, had planted more than 3 lakh saplings in the city and outskirts.

Of these, the OFDC and the two forest divisions had accounted for nearly 2.5 lakh saplings, while the remaining organisations had planted the rest.

Sources in the forest department said the plantation drive conducted by three agencies associated with it — OFDC, city forest division and Chandaka forest division — usually did a good job, but the survival rate of the saplings planted by others was poor.

A green belt can be seen at the city forest division’s site at Kalinga Nagar and the Medicinal Plant Garden, Chandaka Wildlife Division’s sites inside the sanctuary and the OFDC’s sites at Patrapada and on the outskirts of the city. But at the sites where other agencies undertook plantation drive, there is hardly any green cover.

Environmentalists feel that the forest department should monitor the drive.

“Every year, the forest department plants around 3 lakh saplings in the city and outskirts. If the survival rate had been good, the city would have been converted into a dense forest by now. The forest department should do an assessment of the plantation drive,” said Bijay Mishra, an environmentalist.

In 2011, over 3 lakh trees were planted at more than 100 sites in the city and outskirts. Of these, 2.74 lakh were planted by the city forest division, Bhubaneswar, Chandaka Wildlife Division and the OFDC. The other agencies had collectively planted 32,040 saplings.

Sources in the forest and environment department said that while the survival rate of the saplings planted by the three agencies associated with the state forest department was over 70 per cent, the corresponding figure for other agencies was below 10 per cent.

“In May, a survey of the survival rate of the trees planted will be conducted. A number of teams will go on a field visit and enumerate the trees which have become more than two years old,” said a senior forest official.