Experts have commended Uttar Pradesh government’s efforts to plant over 22 crore saplings in a day but say third party verification will help in proper monitoring of these plants as it takes at least five years for the sapling to grow into a full-grown tree.
Jitendra Vir Sharma, director, Forest and Biodiversity at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, said that third party monitoring was mandatory for the success of a campaign of this magnitude.
“People should know who planted seedlings and where. The monitoring will also help in taking proper care of these plants,” he said.
The forest officials in Uttar Pradesh claim that 22.70 crore seedlings had been procured from 1,490 nurseries.
Sharma said that seven crore out of the 22 crore seedlings were planted by the UP Forest department and 15 crore by farmers. “There is, however, need for micro-planning at the village level — the names and title deeds of farmers who are willing to plant trees along with their geo-coordinates must be noted. Only then is third party verification really possible.
“The big question is why would farmers go for tree plantation? Is there any minimum support price (MSP) scheme to protect the interests of the farmers that would encourage them to go for tree plantation? The answer is no. Currently no state has an MSP for tree crops,” he said, adding that governments must come up with MSP schemes for tree crops along with the strengthening of institutional mechanisms for procurement of timber from farmers.
“To be able to draw benefits from such drives, it is important that the government goes for monitoring of these efforts through a process which involves a third party, or non-government agency,” he said.
The UP government, however, claims that every sapling planted has a verified record.
The tree plantation was carried out at 14,30,381 places that included 60,000 villages and 83,000 sites in forest ranges.
“The whole process is online. The pits have been geo-tagged and the saplings carry a QR code. So we can record how many saplings were planted and where. Geo-tagging will also help in maintenance of the tree so that after a month or so we can know exactly how many trees have survived,” government spokesman Awanish Awasthi said.
Awasthi said that teams had been formed from village to district level to monitor progress of the plantation drive. A magistrate level officer was made in-charge of five villages and he would report to his senior and this way the cumulative report would reach Lucknow.