One of the priority areas of the Telangana government is to transform the State into a green hub. As a first step towards this, the government launched its innovative flagship programme ‘Telangana Ku-Haritha Haram’ on July 5, 2015, with an aim to increase the green cover in the State.
The programme envisages increasing the present 24% green cover of the total geographical area to at least 33%, so as to reduce the effect of global warming in Telangana and to maintain environmental stability and ecological balance. This is to be achieved through by increased tree coverage both in notified areas and outside of these zones.
The massive plantation programme started with the aim of planting around 40 lakh saplings in each Assembly constituency and about 40,000 saplings in every village, every year. The main objectives of this project include protecting, afforestation and rejuvenating degraded forests and treatment of RoFR (Recognition of Forest Rights) areas.
Conservation of areas rich in biodiversity outside the Protected Area Network is encouraged with the active collaboration of all stakeholders subsuming the Biodiversity Management Committees. Cutting-edge technological interventions like improved planting stock, GIS (geographic information system), MIS (management information system), remote sensing, tagging of each plant and DGPS (differential geographic positioning system) are being used extensively to make forest management in the State a role model for the nation.
In non-forest areas, various approaches like avenue plantation, barren hill afforestation, institutional plantations, agro-forestry, tank foreshore, canal bank, river banks and rivulets, green panchayats, Smrithi Vanams and planting in urban residential colonies, schools, parks, playgrounds were taken up in earlier rounds of the programme.
As part of the ‘Telangana Ku-Haritha Haram’, 230 crore saplings are proposed to be planted in the next three years to take the State towards realising ‘Bangaru Telangana’. The second week of July every year marks a major milestone for the initiative as the planting drive is relaunched on an extensive scale in entire Telangana. The programme continues to witness active participation of the people from all walks of life, including government agencies, officials, citizens and public representatives.
Field functionaries of various government line departments have undertaken identification of sites and prepared village-level action plans. At the State-level, two committees have been set up to monitor the progress – State-level Coordination and Monitoring Committee and State-level Steering Committee, headed by the Chief Secretary.
A detailed exercise for identification of nurseries and sites available for raising plantations have been undertaken under the ‘Mana Vooru-Mana Pranalika’, initiative. An estimated 3,699 nurseries have been identified to raise adequate stock of plantations by various agencies, including Forest Department, District Water Management Agency, Agriculture and Horticulture and Tribal Welfare departments, for achieving the target. The task also involves procurement of polythene bags and seeds for grounding the nurseries.
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar wanted to emulate the Singapore model to rejuvenate the existing forest coverage with a schematic plantation. Accordingly, plantations have been taken up along all rivers, riverbanks, in and around tank bunds, compounds, institutions and campuses of universities.
Funds for the programme are met from the State Budget and are also drawn from Mgnrega and Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) of the Central government. To reach every section, publicity campaigns have been launched via print, electronic and audio-visual media besides hoisting a dedicated website called ‘harithaharam.telangana.gov.in’, and reaching the common public on Facebook and Twitter. An online monitoring system to supervise the progress is also in place.
A Green Panchayat, Haritha Rakshana Committee, headed by the village sarpanch, including MPTC, Panchayat Secretary, SHG leader, ANM (auxiliary nurse midwif) and an anganwadi worker as members, has been constituted to make the programme successful. The committee, besides guiding the implementation of the programme, is mandated to ensure protection of plantations and involve people through motivation by way of TV ads, radio jingles, campaigns, posters, pamphlets and stickers for vehicles.
Meetings with all the Union and State government Institutions, Army officers and Cantonment boards were conducted to enlist their support and participation. The mass plantation drive ‘Haritha Hyderabad’ has set a record with the plantation of 25 lakh saplings in the State capital.
The Chief Minister stressed the need to create continued awareness so that it becomes a public movement rather than just a government programme. This year, the government is aiming to plant fruits, flower, shade-giving and medicinal trees. It has also announced a ’60-day action plan’ to promote greenery and hygiene across the State.
Haritha Haaram will feature prominently in the 60-days action plan and will be conducted across the State. Various tasks such as afforestation and cleanliness drives are likely to be assigned to villages at a review meeting with Panchayati Raj department officials.
The new Panchayati Raj Act clearly demarcates the duties, powers and responsibilities of gram panchayats as well as funds for them. Hence, this is a good opportunity for the newly-elected sarpanches, deputy sarpanches and ward members to perform their duties effectively for the development and progress of their villages, and especially in making them green.
The programme, resembling China’s reforestation programme ‘Green Great Wall’, is said to be the world’s latest ecological engineering project. With proper implementation, ‘Telangana Ku Haritha Haram’ will become one of the most uniquely conceptualised practices in green cover efforts and a global trendsetter.
(The author is Statistical Officer, Telangana State Development Planning Society, Planning Department, Hyderabad )