Maharashtra is amongst the first states to acknowledge that the country is fast losing its forest covers to economic growth. The first priority of every nation today is to progress and develop, while also keeping in mind ecological health and sustainability. Therefore, action plans drafted by every government try to accommodate the well-being of the environment as well. Along similar lines, the Maharashtra government has launched its project, the Green Army, one of the biggest plantation drives the nation has ever seen. Sudhir Mungantiwar, Minister of Finance and Forest Department, urges people to plant as many as 50 crore plants in the state. All citizens are encouraged to participate in this initiative by the government and renowned actor, Amitabh Bachchan is the ambassador for this project.
A new draft of National Forest Policy was released in 2016, regarding the protection of forests and wildlife. It states that existing forest lands need to be protected and their diversion should be taken up only as a last resort. This can be done after a complete and exhaustive scoping for alternatives such as alternate lands, alternate technology, and options for substitution. The forest policy also dictates the states must use funds accrued in the form of net present value from the diversion of forest lands to acquire critical non-forest lands and establish corridors to provide safe passage to wildlife. Every state shoulders the responsibility of conservation of its forests on itself. The Maharashtra government is taking this initiative to get as much manpower as it can, to fulfill standards of forestry in the state.
According to the National Forest Policy, 33% of Maharashtra’s area is covered by forests, but by this project, the state aims to increase this by at least 20%. School students, college students, women, government employees, employees of the private institutions and senior citizens are being encouraged to participate in the project and plant as many trees as they can, especially in urban areas. Volunteers participating will be rewarded and issued certificates of recognition for their service to the state and its projects. The government is also considering relieving volunteers’ fees for various forest areas, admission fees and tuition fees and certain other charges in government institutions.
As a volunteer, citizens will have to engage in tree planting, primarily, in as many areas as they can. Sample patrolling will also be carried out for the forest covers. Participation in wild counting, activities undertaken by the Forest Department on days like Earth Day, Environment Day etc. will be necessary. Volunteers are expected to take part in programs for public awareness, regarding environmental conservation like Prabhat Ferry, Cycle Rally etc. Becoming a part of this drive not only encourages a healthy ecology for Maharashtra but also helps students and professionals inculcate teamwork and camaraderie, to attain a common goal.
The CSR Journal Team