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Rs 33 crore tree plantation drive; State orders inquiry

05:21 AM Feb 20, 2020 |

Mumbai: The state government has ordered inquiry into the 33 crore tree plantation drive implemented by the Fadnavis government. The demand for such an inquiry was made by Bahujan Kalyan department minister Vijay Wadettiwar. Taking cognisance of it, Forest Minister Sanjay Rathod ordered an inquiry. Reacting to this, Sudhir Mungantiwar, who as forest minister had implemented this drive, challenged the state government to conduct a judicial inquiry and release a white paper on this issue.

Wadettiwar sent a letter to Rathod, demanding an inquiry into the reality of this tree plantation drive. "I am not blaming that the then Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar is involved in any scam. This programme was designed by him, but was implemented by all the government departments, including the forest department. All the departments were asked to spend 0.5 per cent of their budget on this planation drive. Therefore, they all are responsible to ensure that the trees planted by them actually survive. At least, 70 per cent trees should survive. As per my information, 50 per cent trees could not survive. The departments can not wash off their hands by just planting the trees. All their expenditure and the actual survival of trees should be investigated," Wadettiwar explained to FPJ the contents of his letter.

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"I have received the letter from my fellow minister. I have asked the principal secretary of the forest department to inquire into this tree plantation drive and review its success," Rathod told the FPJ.

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Former forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has welcomed this decision. He has requested the state government to conduct the inquiry by a retired judge.

"I will write a letter to the forest minister, requesting him to institute an inquiry into the tree plantation drive. Tree plantation is a godly act. Not only the forest department, but 32 government departments were a part of it. The central government's Forest Survey of India, during its survey with the help of a satellite between October 2017 and January 2018, showed that the plantation helped to increase forest cover. The state should also release a white paper on the tree plantation drive," Mungantiwar said while countering allegations of a scam in this drive.

Earlier tree plantation aimed to increase forest cover

During the Fadanavis government, Mungantiwar had launched a mega drive for the plantation of trees, which was aimed to increase the forest cover of the state from 20 per cent to 33 per cent. The first such drive for the plantation of 2 crore trees was implemented on July1, 2016. It received massive public support. Buoyed with this support, Mungantiwar fixed the target of 50 crore tree plantations from 2017 to 2019. Government departments and non-governmental organisations were involved. As per the claims of the Fadnavis government, 33 crore trees were actually planted.

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