Under the ‘Telangana ku Haritha Haram’ programme, the plan was to plant 230 crore saplings by 2019. However, only 81.6 crore saplings have been planted so far.

Can Telangana achieve goal of 33 percent green cover by 2019 Unlikely say stats
news Environment Friday, January 26, 2018 - 10:24

Will the Telangana government be able to achieve its ambitious goal of ensuring 33% green cover in the state by 2019? According to Forest Department data accessed exclusively by TNM, it’s very unlikely.

In fact, the Telangana government’s ambitious ‘Telangana ku Haritha Haram’ (TKHH) programme is lagging far behind its target of planting 230 crore saplings to increase the state forest cover from the existing 24% to 33%. The data accessed by TNM shows that the government could only plant 81.6 crore saplings in the last four years.

The government now stares at a monumental task of planting 148.4 crore saplings in the next nine months.

According to sources, the main reason for the government missing the TKHH target is poor rainfall.

Owing to poor rainfall in 2015-2016 in the state, only 15.86 crore saplings could be planted. In the 2016-17 period, the government could only plant 31.67 crore saplings against its actual target of 46 crore. In the following year, 34.07 cr saplings were planted, bringing the total to 81.60 crore saplings.

It is unclear as to how many of the planted saplings actually survived.

The Chief Minister who started this ambitious project has however said that the project is a success. However, environmentalists say the project and the effort put in by the government is laudable.

What is ‘Telangana ku Haritha Haram’?

‘Telangana ku Haritha Haram’ (TKHH) is a flagship programme of the state government aimed at increasing the state’s green cover to 33% as envisaged in the National Forest Policy, 1988. Introduced in 2015, the project was to be completed by 2019. The goal of the project is to plant 230 crore saplings; however, the government has been able to plant only 81.6 crore saplings so far.

How the TKHH aims to achieve target

To achieve the monumental feat of enhancing the forest cover to 33%, several departments like Forests, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA), including district machinery like collectors, Tahsildars have been involved in the project. Even employees of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) have been involved in the programme.

The government has spent Rs 2,264.47 crore towards the programme so far. All the officials involved submit everyday progress reports of the project in the common website, which can be viewed by all the departments.

The project’s mandate is to plant 120 crore saplings outside the forest area, and 10 crore saplings in the urban areas that fall under HMDA and GHMC. The other 100 crore saplings are to be planted inside the notified forest area.

Plantations outside the notified areas include plants on roadside avenues, barren hills, river, canal and tank bunds, institutional premises, religious places, housing colonies, community lands, industrial parks and so on.

Protecting the saplings

Apart from plantations, to ensure that the saplings are guarded, tree guards have been appointed and recently Rakshana committees (protection committee) were formed. To further monitor the maintenance of the plants, they are being geo-tagged. So far 30.70 crore plants have been geo-tagged.

Although all the departments together were able to plant 81.6 saplings, there is uncertainty about the survival of these saplings in the GHMC and HMDA areas. According to the Telangana additional chief conservator of forests, RM Dobriyal, the survival rate of saplings planted outside the notified areas is between 50-60%, while the average survival rate of plants under the forest department is 80-90%. “The avenue plantations done by the forest department has a survival rate of above 80%,” he said.

Environmentalist prof K Purushotam Reddy, said that the programme is a novel idea to counter climate change. “The programme should be termed ‘climate change remediation action’. It is a laudable programme to increase the green cover and counter climate change. The entire world is staring at the global warming crisis. The government’s effort to curtail is appreciative, all the other states should emulate the programme. It is a necessity.”