Jan. 1: City hill dwellers today started the New Year by planting a sapling and pledged to care for it till it grew up.
A hill protection progra-mme began today from the Hengerabari hills, under whi-ch each household living on the 16 hills encircling the city, will plant at least 10 saplings in the next five months.
“Today, we planted 70 saplings of mango, jackfruit, java plum and black myrobalan (hilikha) and distributed another 25 saplings among the locals. The hill dwellers will plant the trees, protect and take care of them till they grow up. Since we saw no initiative from the government to protect our hills, we decided to take it up ourselves in the New Year. We collected the saplings from the zoo and from our own collection and more will be collected in the days to come and planted,” Deben Sarma, a resident of Hengerabari said, as he planted a mango sapling this morning.
Brihattar Guwahati Unnayan Samiti Aikya Mancha, an umbrella organisation of 252 development committees and KMSS, have envisaged the programme with an aim to protect the hills from further degradation and make them greener.
KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi kicked off the programme by planting the first sapling at Shivanagar in Hengerabari hill.
Amar Bezbaruah, president of the Mancha, said the plantation was done at Ganeshpahar on the Fatasil hill and Shivanagar in Hengerabari hill today and would cover all the 16 hills in and around the city, which has witnessed landslides and degradation because of the growing pressure of human habitation.
“More than 2.5 lakh fruit-bearing trees will be planted in the hills in the next five months and those living on the hills will take care of them. We will collect the saplings from the public and other sources. We decided to launch the programme, as many people have died because of landslides during rains. Only plantations can protect the soil of the hills and check degradation,” Bezbaruah said.
At least 10 people lost their lives in landslides during the last monsoon.
According to a survey conducted by AC Nielsen ORG-MARG, a research agency engaged by Kamrup (metro) district administration, there are 65,000 households living on 16 hills in and around the city.
The forest department has carried out eviction drives on the hills, but the activists have criticised them saying landless people should be given patta (land documents) and take up measures systematically and involve residents to protect the hills from degradation.