Mr Wadettiwar, it’s time to go to the ‘root’ of plantation drive!

Mungantiwar already on back foot, giving explanations

It was not just forest department alone, but 40 others also: Mungantiwar 

Mumbai: The ambitious project of state forest department to plant 33 crore trees across the state had always been in the eye of storm. Given the projections on plantation and ground reality the claims fall flat. With the mindless plantation across the state, survival of the saplings claimed to have been planted is yet another major question, apart from choice of the species and location. The plantation drive had run into rough weather right from its inception.

With several allegations being made about the species and methodology of plantation, the outcome had always been under a big question mark. There are several loop holes which one tends to believe that the entire process was fallaciously implemented.

There are reasons to believe that, the whole exercise might have gone futile as the basic plantation was full of errors. For example, at many places, including few in Chandrapur district, the home district of the then forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, the volunteers, had planted neem and banyan trees as close as five to seven foot from each other. Now, it is not a rocket science to predict the fate of such trees. Ironically, when such flaws were pointed out, Mungantiwar would flatly write them off.

Also Read: Maharashtra: Congress minister Wadettiwar finally gets `relief’

Another major issue with the plantation was choice of species and location to plant it. Most of the species planted were not indigenous. The only reason to plant such species was the speed of growth. It would be easy to paint a rosy picture in front of the minister and get a pat on back. But while doing this, the forest department had ignored the irreparable damage it was making to the entire ecosystem. Species such as Gulmohar, Eucalyptus, Subabool, Peltrophorm, Acacia, Spathodia, Glricidia, Rain Tree have already damaged our soil. And these species dominate any plantation drive in the country.

Now that the government has initiated inquiry into the plantation, it should also look into the plantation in grass lands across the state. For the sake of achieving records, the forest department went on plantation spree without applying common sense. Thousands of saplings were planted in grasslands of the state spread across Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Jalna, Pune and Solapur districts.

This mindless plantation would destroy the grassland ecosystem as its texture would be changed completely. Apart from this, one important question, that the forest department ignored, was how would the saplings survive in the parched area? Where would they get the necessary water from, in the areas which hardly get any rainfall? The government should also investigate the claims of geo tagging of each sapling planted in the state.

Interestingly, even before the inquiry could start, Mungantiwar has gone on back foot. The letter written to forest minister Sanjay Rathod, which he posted on facebook, is the classical example of blame game. In a clear effort to save his skin, Mungantiwar has cleverly underlined that apart from forest department, 40 other government agencies were involved in the drive.

The letter which hardly speaks on success of the plantation drive, as claimed by the previous government, revolves around climate change, global warming, deforestation et al. But nowhere in the letter, has Mungantiwar shared facts and figures to corroborate his claims. On the contrary, he reminds Rathod that, the Revenue Department, too was one of the agencies which participated in the drive, and the later was Minister of State for Revenue in the previous government! The unwarranted clarification by Mungantiwar, actually warrants thorough inquiry into the entire drive. So, Mr Wadettiwar, it is upon you now, to take this inquiry to logical conclusion.

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