Staff Reporter

To be implemented with the help of local bodies

One crore saplings to be planted across the State

Drive in 999 grama panchayats during first phase

NEMOM: ‘Haritha Keralam,’ a greening project aimed at planting one crore saplings across the State with the help of local bodies, was launched by the Forest Department in the city on Friday.

The two-year project involves the planting of 55 lakh saplings, comprising endemic varieties such as neem, teak, Ashoka, mango, jackfruit, gooseberry and tamarind in the first phase.

The programme will be implemented by 999 grama panchayats in the State during the inaugural phase, with financial assistance from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, initiated by the Union government.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan who inaugurated the project at Government Upper Primary School here described the exercise as an attempt to save the future generation from the impact of climate change.

But then, planting alone is not sufficient. “Sustained after-care is vital to ensure the survivability of the saplings,” Mr. Achuthanandan said.

Urging the adoption of a scientific approach to social forestry, he advised caution against planting water-thirsty trees such as eucalyptus that are harmful to the environment. Mr. Achuthanandan said the government had plans to start a wildlife sanctuary at Peruvannamoozhi in Kozhikode.

Presiding over the function, Forest Minister Benoy Viswom said the drive threw open tremendous job opportunity. It was estimated that nearly 50 lakh jobs could be generated. A total of Rs.50 crore was expected to be disbursed as wages. Nearly 10,000 Kudumbasree workers would be involved in the programme, Mr. Viswom said.

Local Self-Government Minister Paloli Mohammed Kutty said nurseries would be started in panchayats from next year to distribute saplings in the respective areas.