The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh Thursday suspended five forest department employees and issued show-cause notices against three senior officials for submitting "false" information on the plantation drive carried out in 2017, during the previous BJP rule.
Talking to PTI, state Forest Minister Umang Singhar said, "We have taken action against eight forest department employees, including three officials, for submitting false data on plantation. This is a big scam."
Two forest rangers, as many forest guards and one more employee were suspended and show-cause notices were issued against two divisional forest officers (DFOs) and one sub divisional officer (SDO), he said.
In a bid to create a record, the BJP government in the state had on July 2, 2017, carried out a drive to plant over six crore saplings in 12 hours along the banks of river Narmada.
"In order to verify the information submitted by the officials that over 15,000 saplings had been planted in Shahpur range of Betul district on July 2, 2017, I visited the spot. During the drive we formed teams and found that the information furnished by the official was wrong," the minister said.
According to Singhar, it was found that only about half the number of pits were dug for the plantation as against the claim of 15,000 pits made by the officials then.
"Moreover, the officials in their report sent to the forest department headquarters had claimed that 71 per cent plants had survived. However, during the spot verification we found that only 15 per cent of them have survived," he said.
It is evident that the data was false, the minister added.
"We are carrying out an inquiry into the matter," he said.
After the day-long drive on July 2, 2017, the state government had claimed that a total of 6.67 crore saplings were planted in 12 hours across 24 districts located in the Narmada basin.