Harit, twarit Bihar

Move to double green cover in 3 years

Amit Kumar Pandey

Harit Bihar, Twarit Bihar (green Bihar, accelerated Bihar)! This is the new slogan Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has given to the state. The Janata Dal-United leaders and party workers would plant over five million plants and saplings in the next three years. And to a boost to the ‘green Bihar’ campaign, over four lakh bureaucrats, including IAS-IPS officials would plant saplings in their residential premises or land.

The greening plan, a brain child of Nitish Kumar, aims at giving a big thrust to ‘save environment’ campaign. The state has decided to increase the state’s green cover to 15 per cent in the next five years. According to official data, only 6.87 per cent of Bihar is under forest cover. Forest officials admit that Bihar lost most of its cover when Jharkhand was carved out of it in 2000. Monolith Bihar had a forest cover of 17 per cent.

Taking a cue from the Dharahara tradition of planting a sapling to celebrate the birth of a girl child in the family, Nitish Kumar decided to carry forward the golden Dharahara tradition to entire Bihar. Charity begins at home, says an adage. The chief minister kick-started the green drive by planting a sapling in his native village, Kalyanbigaha, in Nalanda district. He also made planting of a sapling mandatory for JD-U members for their membership renewal. The party has decided to plant five million saplings in the next two-three years.

Dharahara village in Bhagalpur had hit the headlines two years for its golden heritage of planting fruit trees, like mango and litchi, to celebrate the birth of every girl child. This tribute to the Mother Nature has made the place a green haven. And to make the ‘Harit Bihar’ campaign more meaningful and popular the Chief Minister and all other ministers have donated a month’s salary and allowances to the ‘plant-a-sapling’ drive. All JD-U legislators also followed suit. Even a few former legislators have given a month’s pension for the cause. Meanwhile, the Forest department has claimed to have distributed ten lakh plants in all 38 districts of the state. Move is afoot to grow as much plants and saplings as possible in the nurseries of the Forest department.

Bureaucrats are more enthusiastic about the green Bihar drive. “It is a big move to involve officials directly in such a mass campaign”, an official in the chief minister’s office said. Nitish Kumar himself has asked government officials to plant a sapling on their land or house premises each to help the state government’s drive for a green Bihar. According to officials of the Environment and Forest department, the top brass of the state administration and district and block-level officials would soon start planting saplings. It is hoped that the participation of government officials would boost the green Bihar drive and should send a positive message and motivate people to plant saplings and plants. They would be encouraged to grow fruit-bearing trees. In the coming years, they and their families would taste the fruits. A senior IPS officer said that the move would set a new and positive trend in society and afford an opportunity to give something back to society.

Meanwhile, the JD-U has launched its campaign to plant five million saplings and plants. Bihar JD-U president Vasishth Narain Singh said that his 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 told media persons in Patna. Giving the green signal to the ‘Harit Bihar Abhiyan Rath Yatra’, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said, “I have requested legislators to donate a month’s salary to help the campaign to achieve its target”. The campaign seeks to involve members of the ruling JD-U in growing trees and creating awareness among people, Nitish Kumar said.

On the other hand, the Bihar Congress has accused Nitish Kumar of misusing Central funds for personal aggrandisement and furthering the JD-U cause. The Congress party alleged that the funds received from the Centre during last financial year under the National Horticulture Mission were being used by chief minister Nitish Kumar to plant trees all over the state on party basis and take credit to save environment. The party alleged that Nitish Kumar is presenting all centrally sponsored schemes as the schemes of the state government and misguiding the people.

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