Veteran actor and environment enthusiast Sayaji Shinde on Sunday criticised the Maharashtra government, calling its drive of planting 33 crore saplings as merely an "eyewash".
He said despite carrying out large-scale plantation and spending crores on the drive, the government was not taking enough steps to ensure survival of the saplings planted earlier.
Shinde himself had been an active participant of the government's saplings plantation drive since the beginning of the project launched under the leadership of state Forests Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.
"I have serious doubts about the actual results of this drive going on every year even as the number of saplings (being planted) is swelling. I had warned Mungantiwar in the very first year that his ambitious project should not end up with plantation of new saplings in the same ditch every year," he said.
"There might have been large-scale plantation, but the survival rate must have been minimal...The drive is an eyewash," he added.
Shinde, who began his career as a Marathi actor and went on to act in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada films as well, hails from Man tehsil in Satara district. He has been planting saplings on government-recognised areas.
"I have even appointed people and paid wages to them to take care of the saplings. I am not sure the state government has taken so much effort. Hence, I have serious doubts about the survival rate of the planted saplings," he said.
"There should be a proper audit of this project as the government is spending crores on it without any substantial outcome. The government employees undertake plantation as a duty and not as a mission. I found that none of them were ever interested in protecting and growing the plants. They simply planted it because the government ordered them to do so," said the actor.
The saplings supplied by the Social Forestry Department are also not in a good condition, he alleged.
"Most of the saplings are just three to six months old. They should be at least nine months old, which will increase the chances of their survival in the new environment once they are planted," Shinde said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)