Forest Department supplies and plants seedlings in institutions and offices free of cost

When the State Forest Department in association with Tamil Nadu State Pollution Board embarked on a massive sapling planting campaign of fast growing tree species, outside the forest area, in connection with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s birthday celebrations last year, few would have expected the tremendous result the programme has produced. Generally, mass seedling planting campaigns turn out to be just rituals, where, after the first few weeks, the seedlings are left to wither. However, a year after its launch, the campaign has changed the face of some dry pockets of the district with green shoots making their presence felt in full bloom.

The highlight of the initiative is that the Forest Department will supply and plant tree seedlings in institutions and offices free of cost with the entire expenditure borne by the State government. Even private institutions and establishments have been covered under the project.

A total of 1.60 lakh seedlings were planted in the district in a phased manner commencing from February 24, 2012. While 45,219 seedling were planted on the premises of government offices, about 55,200 in educational institutions, 22,080 in industrial areas, 16,555 in private premises, 5,258 along State and National Highways, and 15,663 in other places.

“We did not just stop with planting the seedlings. Special teams monitored the watering and growth of these seedlings . It is not just the government departments that showed enthusiasm in protecting the saplings, but the industrial houses, educational institutions, and voluntary organisations too extended full support in seeing that the saplings were properly nurtured. Thanks to their cooperation, the district has recorded 80 per cent survival rate,” says a proud N.Sathish, District Forest Officer.

The survival rate is somewhat considered to be an impressive one, taking into consideration the failure of monsoon, non-availability of water in river Cauvery, and the drought situation in the entire delta region . The identification of right places with soil fertility also played a key role in its success.

Encouraged by the success, the forest department has targeted to plant 2.03 lakh seedlings in the non-forest areas during the current year. Twenty species, including neem, banyan, badam, poovarasu, iluppai, punnai, vengai, and magizham have been identified. The department has already raised seedlings at its nursery farms across the district. In the first phase, 6,500 seedlings will be planted from February 23 to 28. Rest of the 1.96 lakh seedlings will be planted after the onset of southwest monsoon. It has been planned to plant 5,000 seedlings on the road sides and parks. The identification of the sites is in progress, Mr.Sathish said.

N.R.Sivapathy, School Education Minister, inaugurated the campaign at a function held on the river Coleroon bank near Srirangam on Saturday, in the presence of Jayashree Muralidharan, Collector, I.Anwardeen, Conservator of Forests, and Sathish, DFO. Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that all care will be taken for ensuring the success of the programme. Security personnel would be appointed to ensure regular watering and proper nursing of the species throughout the year.

Tree guards will be set up wherever needed to protect the saplings from cattle.

This is a worthy scheme and trees outside forest area will provide multiple benefits, says V.Sundararaju, former Indian Forest Service officer.

They will help in maintaining the ecology, checking pollution, providing clean air, besides recharging the groundwater.

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