Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ill-planning makes plantation drive ineffective.

KANPUR: Most of the saplings planted on 1,000 acres of Fisher Forest area during the Van Mahotsava have dried away for want of regular water supply.

The drive was launched by the wildlife and social forestry divisions of Etawah in the area earmarked for Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's dream project Lion Safari.

In the first phase, more than 20,000 saplings of nearly 22 varieties were planted without taking steps to ensure its survival. During a recent visit to the area, Principal conservator of forest (PCF) Iqbal Singh was shocked to find many sapling drying away for want of regular watering. An irked Singh said "slackness on the part of authorities responsible for survival of saplings would not be tolerated. The issue would be raised before the chief minister soon."

Sources said the PCF found that the possibility of survival of saplings planted during 'Van Mahotsava' was bleak. Saplings of neem, sheesham, pakar, banyan, kachner, pipal, imli, kadam were planted in the 'Van Mahotsava' that concluded in the first week of July.

Both the Wildlife and Social Forestry divisions depend on rain water and have not made any arrangement for permanent availability of water in absence of rain. Environmentalists said, "Water is required to maintain moisture in soil. Rain water alone cannot help saplings grow. Before holding such drives, the department should first make proper water arrangements."

Environmentalists further asked the authorities to come up with an effective plan to nurture the saplings planted in Fisher forest area. They said smaller saplings need more attention and should be watered on daily basis.

Aniket Singh of Luhanna village close to Fisher forest area, said, "If all the saplings dry up, it will be sheer wastage of money. The authorities will surely go for a fresh ones, but they too will dry up if proper care is not taken."

Many patches across Fisher forest area where these saplings were planted still give a barren look. "The plants have dried up. At places no sapling is found," said another local resident, Khajan Singh.

He added that while bigger plants have deeper roots and could meet their water requirement from the soil, saplings had to be taken care of.

Not only the saplings dried, but the tree guards, too were of inferior quality and invited Iqbal Singh's rebuke.

It may be recalled that Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) had recently given a green signal to a Lion safari park in Fisher forest area of Etawah district for conservation of Asiatic Lions. Some 150 hectares of land in Fisher Forest on Etawah-Gwalior national highway was acquired and notified as Lion Safari in 2005.

A budget of Rs 86 crore has already been sanctioned. June 2015 has been set as a deadline for the construction work regarding the project, sources said.

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