Telangana adds variety in its afforestation drive

Telangana adds variety in its afforestation drive

Telangana adds variety in its afforestation drive

Transformation of semi-arid tracts into Haritha Haram (green necklace) in Telangana has begun. Setting a record of sorts, Telangana has embarked on planting 230 crore saplings in dryland tracts and degenerated forests that suffered decades of monoculture.

To enhance tree cover from existing 24 % to 33% as per national standards, the Telangana government took up the Haritha Haram programme immediately after formation of the state in 2014. The aim was to plant 120 crore saplings in non forest areas, around 10 crore in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and Hyderabad Municipal Development Authority (HMDA) jurisdiction and the remaining saplings in the designated forest area of the state.

“This year we have set a target of 40 crore saplings and readied 42 crore saplings in 2,925 nurseries, which is a world record. In that we have about 15 crore teak wood and five crore silver date palms which are native to Telangana state,” Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Social Forestry) R M Dobriyal said. Efforts have been made to remove the eucalyptus monoculture undertaken by earlier governments in the name of afforestation.

The HMDA central nursery near Hakimpet Air Force Station on the outskirts of Secunderabad is one of the major facilities that caters to the needs of the GHMC area and nearby districts of Telangana. The 4-acre facility is raising 38 varieties of plants and at any time is ready with 3.5 lakh saplings for supply to any part of the city and the state.

“We have 20 nurseries under the HMDA, covering 20 districts. We have another 16 nurseries that work under funding from MNREGA,” Madhava Rao, Assistant Director (Horticulture), HMDA, said.

The city, which has lost lot of its green cover to ongoing road widening works and outer ring road  and Metro projects, is also transplanting bigger trees. The Hakimpet nursery has 20 trees ready for transplantation. “At present the Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited has planted huge trees taken from this nursery at the beautification project near Miyapur terminal,” he added.

Enough stock
The nurseries have enough stock of  ficus religiosa fig),  annona squamosa (custard apple), cassia fistula (golden rain) pongamia pinnata (honge), hardvickia binata (anjan), butea monosperma (moduga), terminalia tomentosa (matti) and jacaranta mimosaefolia (neeli gulmohur) for the third phase of Haritha Haram to be launched by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao in Karimnagar on July 12. On the occasion, one lakh saplings will be planted during the plantation drive.

Dobriyal is happy as the earlier plantation drives yielded good results despite monsoon not being satisfactory. “We have 90% success rate in avenues and forest areas. Overall, the success rate is around 80 %, including 163-km-long Vijayawada and 181-km-long Bengaluru roads” he said.

The forest department is using every place available for taking up the afforestation. At least 24 forest blocks which are around Hyderabad and other towns are being developed as urban parks, creating lung spaces.

“Under aerial reforestation we are encouraging preparation of seed bombs by schoolchildren and they are very enthusiastically participating in the massive afforestation programme,” Dobriyal said. Under this, several seeds are packed into a mud ball and they are dropped on the barren soil.

They germinate fast unlike broadcasted seed that could blow away in heavy winds. He said that Rs 1,700 crore has been spent on Haritha Haram so far in which Rs 1,000 crore has come from MNREGA.

The forest department has so far raised 18,920 hectares of block forests, 2,36,383 hectares under Assisted Natural Rejuvenation, 4,691 km under avenue plantation, dug 3,572 km of peripheral trenches to protect forest and created 4,190 km of fire lines to protect forests from fire. In Siddipet district, the native place of Chandrasekhar Rao, massive rejuvenation of forest area has been taken up. “We have set a target of 2.20 crore plants during 2017-18,” said AK Sinha, Chief Conservator of Forests of Unified Medak district.

The typical plan for assisted natural rejuvenation is removal of unwanted bush. After removing thorny jungle growth and weird coppice shoots deep peripheral trenches have been dug all around the cluster. To enhance the lifespan, the trench has been stabilised. Under artificial regeneration, bush clearance, pitting and planting have been undertaken. “Dalbergia latifolia (rosewood), Holoptelia integrefolia (Indian Elm), Mithragyna parviflora (kaim), fig, matti are some of the varieties planted under artificial regeneration.

The forest department, keeping in mind the state government’s goat distribution programme for certain backward communities, is encouraging interculture of forest trees with that of exotic fodder so that the goats won’t eat away the saplings. Hamata grass seeds have been supplied free of charge as they good at fixing nitrogen in the soil. “In Kotyal, we have removed eucalyptus tree, sold  them and replaced  650 hectares with  26 native varieties,” Dobriyal said.

“This is a learning experience for all of us. First year it was a question mark as the chief minister wanted us to set up 4,000 nurseries all over the state,” Priyanka Varghese, OSD, Chief Minister’s office, said.

She said that the government is encouraging large plantations by schools, industries and government offices by offering them Rs 5 for maintenance of a tree if they have a plantation of not less than 100 saplings.

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