Maharashtra government’s 13 crore tree plantation drive is a farce, says ecololgist Madhav Gadgil

The state forest department had organised a plantation drive in which 13 crore trees were to be planted in the state and Pune district was to plant 55.91 lakh trees. However, as per Madhav Gadgil, Indian ecologist and founder of the centre for ecological sciences, the exercise is nothing, but a farce.

“They are going for the numbers. There are several unnecessary plants which are distributed. Most of the time it’s just ceremonies and publicity they are after. No one knows how they are going to take care of the plants and how many plants will survive next year,” he said.

“Worst of all, I have been told by a few people that the saplings which are available for ₹15 outside, are sold by forest department for ₹40,” added Gadgil.

As the head of the western ghats ecology expert panel (WGEEP) of 2010, Gadgil had suggested several measures to protect the environment. When asked how he sees the situation of the western ghats and what would should be the priority, he said, “We need a strict and effective implementation of our forest and environment laws. It’s a myth that development and environment negate each other. Countries like Germany and Sweden have proved that the balance between massive industrialisation, strong economy and environment is possible. It has been observed that the same companies which follow all norms in those countries are reluctant to follow the same here in India because they know that we don’t have an effective system to implement our environment policy.”

A study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters states that deforestation of the western ghats is affecting the monsoon. Talking about it, Gadgil said, “I haven’t read that report and haven’t done any research on that, but the amount of light reflected from barren land differs from dense green cover and it can be one of the reasons in reducing the amount of rain.”

First Published: Aug 08, 2018 16:53 IST

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