Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bihar goes Green, from the air and on the ground...


Manoj Chaurasia / The Statesman

PATNA: The Nitish Kumar government has, for the first time, hired two private helicopters to launch a massive aerial plantation drive atop the steep mountains, hills and hillocks across the state, apparently alarmed at the fast-depleting green cover.

The government believes that aerial plantation will not only increase the forest cover but will also help maintain the ecological balance across the state, which suffers from the dual tragedy of floods and droughts.

Two Bell-407 helicopters, hired from Arrow Aircraft Company, have carried out aerial spraying of many different tree seeds over the now bare Rajgir hills, located in central Bihar’s Nalanda district. It is the home district of chief minister Mr Nitish Kumar.

According to an official, a total of 1,250 kg seeds of many medicinal, fruit-bearing and wood-giving trees, and also several varieties of important grass have been airdropped from these helicopters in the Rajgir hill range.

Officials say the air-dropped seeds will germinate after rains, and grow into trees, increasing the green cover.

“Planting seeds on the hills by traditional methods is quite difficult as the hills are steep, and they are now fast losing their green cover. The government has therefore hired helicopters to launch a massive forestation drive,” said Bihar’s deputy chief minister, Mr Sushil Kumar Modi, who is also in charge of the Environment and Forest Ministry.

The drive, he said, was launched on a trial basis and once it gives encouraging results, the aerial spraying of seeds will be carried out in many more such areas.

Chief minister Mr Kumar is to kickstart his party’s much-publicised “Green Bihar” campaign tomorrow, from his native village Kalyan Bigha in Nalanda district.

Under the drive, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) plans to plant at least 50 lakh saplings across the state in the next few months.

The party has linked its membership drive with the plantation campaign, making it mandatory for every person joining the JD-U to plant at least one sapling at his village and help increase the green cover.

“The plantation drive and the party membership drive will go on side by side…and, we have plans to get at least 50 lakh members this time”, said state JD-U chief Mr Vashishtha Narayan Singh.

To ensure the “Green Bihar” campaign is a success, the JD-U organised a formal training camp at its party office on Monday, during which the party leaders, office bearers and workers were provided tips by experts as to how, where and which kinds of the saplings should be planted in different seasons.

According to an official report, 9.89 per cent of Bihar is forested; the government wants to increase this to 15 per cent in the next five years. In order to achieve this task, the state government has adopted various measures involving rural families, school children, NGOs and eco-clubs.

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