As part of the ‘Green Bihar’ campaign, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has planted a sapling of the holy Bodhi tree at his official residence.
Kumar got the sapling from Bodh Gaya and planted it at 1 Anne Marg. Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, which has been given the task to protect the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya, is regularly consulted for care of the sapling at the Chief Minister’s residence. Legend goes that Lord Buddha attained enlightenment under this tree.
Plantation of the sapling is part of Kumar’s initiative to increase greenery in the state which at present has only 9.79 per cent area under green covers. “Harit Bihar abhiyan (campaign) is aimed at increasing forest and green areas in Bihar which is facing dwindling tree population after Jharkhand was carved out of the state,” Kumar told.
The JD-U’s rule of planting saplings to become member of the party is also yielding good results, he said. “A total of 11.65 lakh saplings have been planted under the scheme so far,” he said, adding his government has made a provision to maintain a record of these saplings through computer entry to track their growth.
“More than nine lakh computer entries with details like name of planter, ID number of each of the tree with photograph have been done so far,” he said.
“We want to send a strong message that JD(U) is sensitive towards expanding green cover in the state and work for protection of environment,” Kumar said. The government targets to plant 50 lakh saplings in two years, Principal Secretary, Forest, Deepak Kumar Singh said.
He said Bihar had a forest cover of 30 per cent before its bifurcation in November, 2000. But, majority of this went to Jharkhand and Bihar at present is left with only 6.8 per cent as notified forest areas, Singh said, adding that along with tree cover the figure comes to 9.79 per cent of the total area of the state.
The official said the target is to raise this to 15 per cent by 2015. He said that the state government has thought of a scheme under which a unit of 20 saplings planted by the state government would be given to a BPL family to nurture them as part of rural employment programme of MNREGA.
“The BPL family would have sole right of fruits coming in these trees and also woods which they can either use for cooking of sell the logs,” the official said.
The Principal Secretary of Forest department said as part of efforts to promote nurseries, the state government is giving five saplings free of cost to an individual and above this they can get them at a nominal rate of Rs 2 apiece.
The target is to distribute 20 lakh saplings of sesam, sagwan and jamun among others in 2012, he said, adding that the duration of the scheme which started on August one has been extended to August 15 from earlier date of August 9.