Thursday, July 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Babas, NGOs to green Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 2
Punjab will now utilise the services of babas (religious persons) to enhance the area under forests.

The government has banned the planting of exotic trees. Only indigenous species of trees such as kikkar, sheesham, neem, ber will now be planted. However, emphasis will on growing fruit trees such as mango, jamun, guava etc.

An elaborate programme has been prepared in this connection. Punjab has about 8 per cent of its area under forests far less than 33 per cent fixed under the National Forest Policy. It has formulated a state forestry action plan to increase the area to 15 per cent within 15 years.

Under a programme chalked out by Mr P. Ram, Secretary, Department of Forests, a paradigm shift in the forestry programme has been made. Besides babas, there is a plan to involve about 2,800 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for the expansion of forest cover these NGOs has already been identified by the department.

There are a number of babas engaged in the task of planting trees in the areas around their deras. However, most of such work is being done unsystematically. Mr P. Ram told The Tribune that the department would help babas streamline the growth of forests, besides providing them with the necessary technical guidance to plant trees.

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