Controversy over sapling in MP

L.S. Herdenia

Madhya Pradesh has set a world record by planting more than six crore saplings in a day last Sunday. But the big issue is how many of these would survive. Earlier records show that on an average only one out of five saplings survives.
Saving these saplings requires massive resources and a committed work force. It these do survive and grow to become trees, it will bring about a sea change in the environment of the Narmada basin.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had announced during his 148-day Narmada Yatra that ended in May his resolve to plant six crore saplings and has thus fulfilled his promise in less than one-and-a-half month's time.
Hopping from one place to another in a government chopper, Chouhan planted saplings at Amarkantak (from where the Narmada begins its 1300-km-long journey to the Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat) Jabalpur, Omkareshwar and Chipaner, a village on the banks of the Narmada River in Sehore district. He said the state would show a path to the world by achieving the feat to ensure that the river Narmada continues to flow.
The government mobilised a large number of people to plant a variety of saplings on the banks of the river. Half of them were arranged by the state forest department. Saplings were planted on both banks of the river along the 1,077 km stretch, a government spokesman said.
The fifth longest river in the Indian sub continent, Narmada is also known as the lifeline of the state. The west-flowing river starts from Amarkantak and flows 1,077 km in 24 districts of Madhya Pradesh before entering Maharashtra and Gujarat.
The chief minister launched the massive plantation campaign by planting a rudraksh sapling in Amarkantak. Before doing so, he also performed Narmada arti at the Narmada temple in Amarkantak. Later, he flew to Jabalpur, where he planted a sandal sapling at Lamheta ghat on the banks of Narmada, where his wife clicked a selfie with the chief minister. Besides Chouhan, people planted more than 42 lakh saplings in Jabalpur district, later a government spokesperson said.
Expressing concern over the rising temperature of the earth due to global warming, Chouhan said the plantation is essential for handing over a clean environment to future generations. Through the record plantations at the Narmada river basin and its banks, the people of the state have spread the message of environment conservation to the world, he asserted.
Referring to the Paris Agreement, Chouhan said that by 2050, the temperature of the earth will rise by 2 degree Celsius. Glaciers will begin to melt, oceans will swell, villages and islands will submerge under water. Rain cycle will turn uncontrollable and the very existence of human beings would be at peril. "Today Madhya Pradesh is spreading the message and trying to save the Narmada from climatic changes," he said.
A government spokesman said elaborate arrangements have been made to ensure survival of the saplings.
Bulk of the planted saplings are of medicinal value and include Amla, Arjun (very useful for heart patients), Bel, Neem, Harra and Beheda. Some 20 per cent area has been covered by Peepal, Bargad and Kadamb trees. The chief minister also announced that in future every government function would start with the planting of a sapling.
It is estimated that about Rs 100 was spent on planting one sapling; so more than Rs 600 crores might have been spent on this massive project.
Opposition leader Ajay Singh has said that after Vyapam this is going to be the biggest scam as the saplings planted on the banks of river Narmada will not survive. He claimed that only around 10 lakh people had registered for the event and with such participation it was impossible that six crore saplings could be planted in 12 hours.  He claimed that at many places, the saplings did not reach the people, who had been waiting at different places.
The government has appointed 'vriksha mitra' who will take care of the plants and they are mostly the RSS and BJP workers, who will be paid from the MGNREGS account, Ajay Singh claimed. The MGNREGS is established to provide wages to labourers, but the state government has spent it for transporting people for the event, he added.
The act of the chief minister in performing the arti along with his wife is seen as an attempt to convert a government programme into a religious act has been widely criticised by a cross section of society. He also invited a top Hindu religious leader, Mahamandleshwar Awadheshanand, to grace the event. Chouhan had also involved several Hindu religious leaders, including Sankaracharya in the Narmada Sewa Yatra. (IPA)

Sunday, 9 July, 2017