Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 9:
If reports of the Odisha Government are to be believed, the Forest and Environment Department has planted more than a million saplings around Bhubaneswar between 2010-2014. However, the sorry truth is beautification of the city suburbs through plantation remains a distant dream as most of these saplings have now perished due to lack of care.
The officers couldn’t care less while the plants continue to grow on paper.
“The survivability of the saplings we planted is over 90 percent. The Forest Department takes care of the plants for the first three years after plantation after which the responsibility is handed over to local authorities. If they fail to protect the trees, it is their fault,” said city DFO Jayant Das.
The original green belt plan was conceived in 2010. Under this plan, a forest layer was supposed to be created around the city in places such as Aiginia, Tamando, Ghatikia, Sundarpada and Uttara. As per reports of Forest Department, 3.48 Lakh saplings per year were planted in 2010-11 and 2011-12, 3.01 lakh more in 2012-13 and another 1 lakh in 2014.
Saplings were planted, but that was about all. Happy with the statistics, the government conveniently forgot to maintain them and protect them from cows and other dangers. On occasions, proper watering arrangements were not made leading to their death.
Recently, 3000 trees between Baramunda till Birupa Bridge were chopped down to carry out road expansion and the Forest Department planted flower pots on the road divider to make up for it. While the plantation drive has resulted in a drastic failure, the rapid deforestation is troubling the denizens and environmentalists alike.