Bihar set to turn green, politicians to plant trees

By Imran Khan, IANS,

Patna : With the aim of increasing forest cover to 35 percent in a decade, Bihar is employing several steps, including asking members of the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) to plant trees.

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A team of experts including retired forest officers taught a group of party leaders, workers and legislators here Monday how to plant saplings. The learning and training are part of the party’s ‘Green Bihar Abhiyan’ of planting five million saplings in the next two to three years, said party leader Sanjay Singh.

“The party leaders and workers were keen to learn about it,” said retired forest officer Ram Padarath Singh, one of the trainers.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will kick off the green drive Thursday from his native village – Kalyanbigha in Nalanda district.

Ram said similar training and learning programmes will be organised from district to block levels by the party soon.

The JD-U has asked all its members to plant at least one sapling.

State JD-U president Vasishth Narain Singh said that his party was the first political party in the country to include plantation in its agenda.

“We have decided to involve all party leaders and workers in the drive by tagging it with the party’s membership drive,” he said.

Vasishth told IANS that the party aimed to enrol five million members, and each member will have to plant a sapling.

The green drive is the brainchild of Nitish Kumar, who was impressed by Dharhara, a small village 230 km east of here in Bhagalpur district.

The village made headlines two years ago as the villagers planted fruit trees, including mango and litchi, to celebrate the birth of every girl child there. Their pledge to nature has made the place a green haven.

“Dharhara village impressed Nitish Kumar… the chief minister dubbed it a role model for other villages in Bihar,” Vasishth said.

Nitish Kumar repeatedly said that the novel initiative served the twin purpose of environment conservation and promotion of gender equality.

Last month, Nitish Kumar also gave orders for conversion of the thermal power system at his residence and office into a solar one. A solar power project will be launched soon.

“It will set a model for others to follow Nitish Kumar’s practical approach to eco-friendly measures,” an official in his office said.

According to official data, Bihar has only a fragile 6.87 percent forest cover.

Forest officials admit that Bihar lost most of its green cover when the state of Jharkhand was carved out of it in 2000.

The undivided Bihar had a forest cover of 17 percent.

(Imran Khan can be contacted at [email protected])