Pradesh to go 'herbal' with massive plantation drive
By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, Jan 28 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh is going in for massive
plantation of indigenous species, especially medicinal plants,
to not just boost its depleting green cover but also transform
the hill state into a herbal one.
The state authorities planted more than 1.5 million saplings
on a single day Aug 3 last year. The government plans to plant
around 12 million saplings of medicinal species this year
by encouraging the people to take to the drive.
Saplings of more than 55 indigenous species like neem, banyan,
jamun and peepal would be planted during the special drives,
starting with the onset of monsoon, an official said.
"The aim of the plantation drive is not only to make
the hill state herbal but is also an initiative to combat
climate change," Forest Minister J.P. Nadda told IANS.
"We intend to re-green 2,677 hectares this year,"
The government has roped in the joint forest management committees,
local people and the National Medicinal Plant Board for carrying
out the plantation drives.
"For the regions below 4,500 feet, around 9,300 villages
have been identified where people would be encouraged to plant
pipal or banyan trees," Nadda said.
Additional Chief Secretary Avay Shukla, who is associated
with the programme, said the aim of such programmes was to
motivate the common man to know the importance of commercially
"Once the villagers start understanding its economic
benefits, the programme would gain momentum," he said.
During the last plantation campaign, the maximum demand from
people was for saplings of the medicinal plant amla, he said,
adding that 388,629 amla saplings were distributed.
Wild pomegranate (136,470 saplings), bhera (89,350), ritha
(56,386) and harad (30,601) followed amla in popularity in
In the towns, aloe vera was the most popular as 26,328 saplings
The state already has a quarter of its geographical area under
The hill state is most vulnerable to climate change as the
Himalayan glaciers have been retreating due to global warming.
The latest report of the Forest Survey of India has revealed
that the area of the state's moderate dense forests - tree-cover
ranging from 40 to 70 percent - has decreased from 7,883 sq
km to 7,831 sq km, a reduction of 52 sq km.
However, the area under very dense forests - tree-cover in
excess of 70 percent - has marginally increased from 1,093
sq km to 1,097 sq km.
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