Special Correspondent

Trees played a crucial role in protecting the coastal community during the tsunami

Pichavaram mangrove forest area to be extended by 100 ha at a cost of Rs. 28 lakhRs. 38 lakh set aside to create awareness among people about need for growing trees

CUDDALORE: District Collector Gagandeep Singh Bedi proposed expansion of the area under mangrove forests here from 650 hectares to 750 hectares after having realised the protective nature of the trees during natural disasters, particularly at the time of the tsunami.

He was speaking at the 83rd birthday celebrations of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karuanidhi observed as "Afforestation and Green Revolution Day" here on Friday. Mr. Bedi said the district had a forest cover of 20,000 ha (3.5 per cent of the land area). The 650 ha of mangrove forests in Pichavaram had played a crucial role in protecting human habitations during the tsunami .

Besides keeping a check on the fury of the tidal waves, the forests also withstood the gusty winds. Therefore, it had been decided to extend the mangrove forest area by 100 ha at Pichavaram at the cost of Rs. 28 lakh.

The project would be taken up under the National Rural Employment Guarantee programme. Rs. 16 lakh had been earmarked for raising avenue trees on the Cuddalore-Chidambaram National Highway.

The Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana had set aside Rs. 66 lakh to plant saplings along the the canals.

Proposals for Rs. 38 lakh had been sent to the government to create awareness among people about the need for growing trees and for increasing forest cover, Mr. Bedi said.

Saplings as gifts

Union Minister of State for Law K. Venkatapathi said from the ancient times, trees played an important societal role as people used to gather under trees to discuss issues of public importance. Since trees had induced rainfall, the afforestation scheme was launched in 1989 to be implemented through self-help groups.