2.09 lakh saplings to be planted in Ramnad this year

03RNJWSHI-Sapli_MA_2394432fFOR GREEN COVER:District Forest Officer M. Pitchai inspecting gap planting at the reserve forest area near Rameswaram

1.05 lakh of the saplings will be in reserve forests, says DFO

The Forest Department has proposed to plant 2.09 lakh tree saplings this year under the Massive Tree Planting Programme, District Forest Officer (DFO) M. Pitchai has said.

Talking to reporters after visiting the reserve forest near Jada Theertham Sivan Temple in Rameswaram on Saturday, he said the department would plant 1.05 lakh saplings in the reserve forest areas and the remaining saplings in village panchayats involving those employed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

He said that the department had raised nurseries in Thangachimadam, Aartangrai, Kamudhakudi and Kannirajapuram and launched the bag filling work to grow 2.09 lakh seedlings in the bags till the plantation began in October-end, when the district received rains during the northeast monsoon. The plantation would be completed by December, he added.

Between October, 2014 and March, 2015, the department had planted 83,000 saplings, mostly in reserve forest areas in Rameswaram, as part of gap planting to protect the coastal areas from sea erosion, Mr. Pitchai said, adding, “The success rate was more than 90 per cent.”

The MGNREGS workers planted an equal number of saplings in village panchayats throughout the district and the success rate was about 60 per cent.

He said that the district had a reserve forest area of 4,800 hectares, of which 2,800 hectares were located in the coastal region of Rameswaram island. The gap planting would go a long way in protecting the island from sea erosion, he said.

The reserve forest areas were governed under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and non-forestry purpose works were prohibited in the areas, he said.

A survey was being undertaken to identify and remove encroachments on the reserve forest areas. There was 40 per cent shortage of staff and the department had only one Ranger and six Foresters against the sanctioned strengths of four and six respectively, he said.

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