Hyderabad: The Telangana government spent Rs 3,350 crore of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA) funds during the four phases of Telangana Ku Haritha Haram between 2015 and 2019. Although additional funds may be required for the fifth phase considering the government’s plan to nearly triple the planting of saplings.
The target of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao is to expand the State’s forest coverage from the existing 24 per cent to 33 per cent through planting 230 crore plants across Telangana by 2020. Statistics from the Forest Department suggest that the Chief Minister’s plan may not materialize in the city at least.
GHMC Mayor Bonthu Rammohan said, “10 crore plants are to be planted in the city in the next five consecutive phases of Haritha Haram.”
The project involves planting 120 crore saplings outside of the forest area for increased coverage, 10 crore saplings in Hyderabad city, and other 100 crore saplings inside the notified forest areas.
The Forest Department, which administers the project across the State, is not clear about the survival rate of the saplings.
“The survival rate is the poorest in the city. It lingers between 40 per cent and 50 per cent, which is a little less than other certain areas where the sapling is not protected or watered on a timely basis,” a forest official said.
According to the district-wise report prepared by the Forest Department, the city under Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) jurisdiction will get about 830 lakh saplings this year. This is expected to increase the city’s green coverage by 4.16 per cent.
“Most of the saplings die partly due to human intervention and partly because saplings are not planted in the right way and at the right location,” asserted the forest official. He continued, “The department has decided to plant more trees at government and private institutions like schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and departmental offices where the chances of survival are greater compared to those 0f trees planted at street corners.”
Since the first phase of the project, the survival rate of a majority of saplings planted in the city has been paltry. Nevertheless, this year the government has decided to do the same yet again. The city limits get a majority of saplings compared to other districts in the state where the survival rate is superior.
Forest Department officials claim that the survival rate of saplings at the 7,600 km national and state highways are exceptionally high at 90-95%, where the highway authorities and Forest Department personnel handle their maintenance.
The department is preparing to distribute saplings of teakwood, sandalwood, and fruit-bearing plants to farmers for agroforestry. “The survival rate is likely to be greater as farmers know how to grow trees,” the forest official surmised.
|PHASE||YEAR||PLANTED in Cr|
|Aim||of the state||230.0|
In the coming year, bamboo is also being planted to increase the source of income for small and marginal farmers.
According to reports, the department is introducing 37 species of fruit-bearing tree species in degraded forest areas to support the growth of macaques and other arboreal species.
“The aim is to return monkeys to forests while preventing their intrusion and dependency on cities and towns,” forest officials said.
In the coming year, with the cooperation of the Central government’s Bamboo Mission, bamboo is also being planted to increase the source of income for small and marginal farmers.
During the fifth phase of Haritha Haram, 83.30 crore saplings are expected to be planted across the State. In the four previous phases, the government planted 196.88 crore plants — with unclear survival rates — out of its target of planting 230 crore saplings by 2020.