Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 12
The receding water level of Sukhna Lake has become a matter of concern for the Department of Forests and Wildlife. Besides de-weeding the lake, the department is planning to introduce indigenous palatable species in its catchment area to prevent the growth of weeds.
The move is part of Greening Chandigarh Action Plan of 2017-18 of the department. Replenishing and conserving the biodiversity of Sukhna Lake Wildlife Sanctuary would be the prime agenda of the action plan, said Santosh Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden, Chandigarh Administration. He said check dams were built at various places to stop the silt from accumulating in the lake but something needed to be done to stop the growth of weeds in the lake as well. “We have to find a natural way to deal with the problem. As part of the action plan, we are introducing indigenous species in the catchment area of the lake which will co-exist with the lake's environment and its surroundings. Besides, it will help in maintaining biodiversity,” said Santosh Kumar.
The Chief Conservator of Forests said the department was looking forward to introducing plants which could stop the growth of weeds in and around the lake. He said as a party to the Greening Chandigarh Action Plan 2017-18, the forest department was aiming to increase the green cover by 45 per cent. Currently, the green cover in the city touches the 42 per cent mark, much above the 33 per cent required for healthy living.
He said against a target of planting 2,20,000 saplings in the year 2016-17, as many as 2,54,726 saplings were planted and in 2017-18, the department is aiming to plant 2,35,000 saplings.
According to Santosh Kumar, the forest cover of Chandigarh increased from 43.26 sq km in 2013 to 48.03 sq km in 2015. The city's green cover also recorded the highest figure ever, reaching 57.03 sq km in 2015. In 2013, the figure was 53.26 sq km.
“Recently, a resident of South Korea visited the city and was impressed by the green cover. He said in South Korea, to see the green cover, they have to travel out of the city. But city and forests co-exist in Chandigarh,” said Santosh Kumar while sharing the experience.
He said the department was identifying areas where afforestation was required and during the monsoon season, plantation would be carried out on a massive scale in these areas.
He said the measures are carried out to keep a tab on the poaching of trees. There have been incidents where anti-social elements tried to fell trees by cutting the barbed wires. “The matter is being investigated and the accused will soon be caught,” said Santosh Kumar.
The Chief Conservator of Forests also appreciated the efforts of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation and the Horticulture Department for joining hands with the forest department in increasing green cover in the city.
“Special credit goes to the residents of Chandigarh who show a special love for the green cover. If we continue to receive a similar response, we will surely achieve our target this year,” said Santosh Kumar. As per this year’s target, 1.5 lakh trees will be distributed among schools, colleges and other educational institutions, medical institution, market associations, NGOs, resident welfare associations, Rotary Club Lion's Clubs, farmers and individuals. Besides medicinal and herbal plants, neem, jamun, mango, sheesham, peepal and kachnar will be planted across the city during the monsoon season.
State of forest cover in a sorry state
Sadly, there is not a single district in Punjab that comes remotely close to Chandigarh in terms of afforestation. Ludhiana, the industrial town of the state, has a mere 1.99 per cent of forest cover.
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