People involvement needed to raise Maha green cover: Minister

Affirming the resolve of Maharashtra government to plant 33 crore tree saplings across the state in 2019, Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar Monday said people's participation is needed to protect the environment.

He appealed to citizens, civil society members and NGOs to join hands with the state government to increase the green cover in the state.

Mungantiwar was addressing a press conference here on the sidelines of a meeting of officials to chalk out the mega tree plantation drive.

Officials from the Pune administrative division, guardian ministers of Pune, Satara, Solapur and MLAs from Pune city and the district attended the meeting.

"In Maharashtra, the forest land is 10.78 per cent. As far as Pune is concerned, the tree plantation movement started from July 1, 2016, and that time a target of planting 2 crore trees was set.

"However, the district surpassed the target and 2.83 crore trees were planted," said Mungantiwar.

The minister said this happened because of people's overwhelming participation in the drive.

Talking about the survival rate of planted saplings, he said in the Pune division, which consists of five districts, the survival rate is 86 per cent which is a matter of "satisfaction".

"This year, that is from July 1, 2019, to September 30, 2019, a target of planting 33 crore trees has been set. To protect the environment, citizens, civil society and NGOs should come forward to the join the movement," he said.

Mungantiwar lauded the efforts of the Green Army, an initiative of the forest department to increase the citizens' participation to increase the green cover.

The minister said as far as Maharashtra is concerned, the overall green cover of the state is 20 per cent and to achieve the target of 33 per cent, more efforts are needed.

"It has been seen that areas or districts such as Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, where green cover is good, receive better rainfall.

"On the other hand, districts like Latur and Osmanabad, which have less forest areas, face water scarcity," the minister said.