The Telangana state Haritha Haaram seems to be the great opportunity for the State government to fix the deficit of eight per cent forest cover against the stipulated national average of 33 per cent green cover.
The State currently has a forest cover of 25.19 per cent with Khammam, estimated to have at least 40 per cent of green space, topping the districts, followed by Adilabad and Warangal. However, the other districts including Nalgonda, Rangareddy and Medak have very little to boast in this regard.
Officials from the forest department said that 33 per cent green cover could be achieved only after the proposed project takes off without any hindrance. “It may take a minimum of ten years to regain the erstwhile forest cover, if the Haritha Haaram programme is executed well.
The increased incidents of smuggling teakwood and encroachment have led to this pathetic situation,” said a senior official. Recent statistics reveal that Khammam and Warangal have lost most of its wild spread due to encroachments, the official said. Officials said that Haritha Haaram project would take off between June and July 2015.
The flora that would be planted include the State’s official flower ‘tangedu’, teak wood, bamboo, jamai, red sanders among others. “We have given ourselves a target of planting 120 crore saplings over the three years, if the number cannot be realised, we would consider purchasing them from other states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh,” the officer said.
Special Conservator of Forests P K Sharma said that identifying land suitable for establishing the nurseries is underway. “We are yet to identify suitable lands which could be equipped with irrigational facilities; which are apt for digging trenches etc.
Tenders to buy pouches for holding saplings have already been completed. Now tenders have been called for providing hosepipes,” he said. Environment and Forests Minister Jogu Ramanna on Monday urged the forest officials to make necessary changes in the State forest policy that would safeguard forests and rejuvenate the forest cover. He said that the existing State Forest Act was incompetent in preventing dwindling area of the forests. He said that the new forest Act would be developed on the lines of Karnataka and Maharashtra State Forest Acts.
The Minister said that plans are being drawn to avoid controversies pertaining to the forest outline. He said vigil would be increased and check posts would be strengthened, besides filling the vacant posts, to protect the green spread. He stated that achieving a target of 33 per cent of forest cover is the primary goal of the State government.