Demand for two additional eco-battalions to Centre for increasing green-cover in Maharashtra: CM Uddhav Thackeray

Mumbai, 17th June 2022: Stating that while forest cover needs to be 33 per cent of the total geographical area as per the National Forest Policy, Maharashtra has 20 per cent green cover, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray directed to increase green cover by tree plantation in districts where it is less with the help of eco-battalion and follow up the proposal with defence ministry for extending the tenure of the first eco-battalion by five years as well as giving two more eco-battalions. He expressed confidence that through eco-battalion, there would be employment generation for the ex-servicemen.

The chief minister today reviewed functioning of the eco-battalion during a meeting at Committee room at Varsha Bungalow, the official residence of the chief minister. Principal advisor to Chief Minister Sitaram Kunte, additional chief secretary to chief minister Vikas Kharge, principal secretary to forest department Venugopal Reddy, Territorial Army New Delhi DG Lt Gen P M Singh, commanding officer of Eco-Battalion at Aurangabad Col. Mansoor Ali Khan and other forest department officials were present for the meeting.

Chief Minister further added that forest department needs to plan so that the trees planted by eco-battalion survive even after five years especially taking in to account irregularity of the Monsoon rains.

Aerial sowing

Asking to go for aerial sowing for tree plantation at places where human activity is lesser and adequate soil as well as water availability is there in natural manner, chief minister Thackeray said that forest department needs to consider water storage by creating small lake on the plain areas on a hilltop for the same. He said that such lake can be used for watering the plants even after Monsoon months by using solar pumps as well as by micro-irrigation methods. He asked forest department to undertake a pilot project for the same.

Pointing it out that continuous contour trenches used to be deployed for water storage in previous years, he asked forest department to undertake digging such trenches in big way with the help of water conservation and employment guarantee departments.

Sow native varieties of plant species

 Asking to sow local native plant species while undertaking tree plantation with the help of eco-battalion or forest department or with the help of people’s participation, chief minister Thackeray said that while going for tree plantation, there is a need to concentrate on developing food-chain of the birds.

Valley of flowers

Asking forest department to ascertain if we can develop valley of flowers, he said that we generally find that there are specific flowers blooming in various seasons in a few mountain ranges. By studying this, he said that forest department can develop valley of flowers and while doing so we need to ensure that food-chain of the birds is protected and ore birds visit this valley.

Develop Miyawaki forest in Municipal Corporation areas

He also directed to develop Miyawaki forests in every Municipal Corporation area as per availability of space so that green cover in the city areas is increased.

Develop Grass-Land

The Chief minister attracted attention of the forest officials to the fact that wild animals would be deterred to come to human localities and herbivorous animals towards agricultural lands if efforts are taken to develop grass-lands in buffer areas of the protected forests where man-animal conflicts are observed.

Social responsibility

He directed forest department to submit report on tree plantation where forest land is taken for development works since there is a pre-condition of tree plantation while taking such land. He asked to take efforts so that cooperation is availed through Corporate Social Responsibility funds of the Corporate companies for tree plantation as well as human resource for the same.

Aurangabad Eco-Battalion plants trees on 662 hectares

Colonel Mansoor Ali Khan informed that Aurangabad Eco battalion in last five years has planted 8.71 lakh 477 plants on 663 hectares of land and rate of survival is 89.54 per cent. He informed that there are 2.50 lakh plants ready at the nursery where eco-battalion has prepared these saplings. He said that the Jawans in eco-battalion take care of the samplings right from sowing which is why survival rate is more. He said that during this work, Jawans indirectly help wild-life conservation as well.

The meeting informed about the project under aerial sowing during last Monsoon in Rajgad, Raigad and Shivneri forts as per the Thane, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad forest news.