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Adopt A Tree
|by Rajender Krishan|
The future of mankind depends on forests. The forests protect the soil and form a vital watershed for rivers. The intricate interdependence of ecosystems makes both sod and woodlands alike so important for the conservation of flora and fauna by thwarting the danger of soil erosion, floods, and groundwater evaporation.
The relevance of forests is greater in a country like India where over a billion people are struggling to find breathing space. As against a need of over 33% of forestland to maintain the ecological balance, the country today is struggling to hold on to a bare 11% of forestland. Also, as against a world average of 0.8 hectares, the per capita forest cover in India is only 0.07 hectares, thereby making the people of India living in a polluted atmosphere.
India's forest cover has declined by about 12.5% in the last 50 years alone. It is also interesting to note that India's population increased from about 300 million in 1951 to over a billion in 1999. This loss is attributed to over-exploitation of forest resources, overgrazing, encroachment, forest fires and negligence in the development projects of forest areas. Poverty, corruption, weak institutions and wasteful expenditure have also contributed to the forest loss.
Now the Government agencies seem to be waking up and efforts are being made to make amends. However, it is noteworthy that while the estimated funds required to "rebuild" and secure the forestlands is Rs.5000 crores per annum for the next five years, the national government has made provision in their budget for only Rs.1600 crores which is barely 30% of the actual requirement.
The urban population has contributed immensely in ruining the ecological balance in the major metro cities. Take for example the capital city of Delhi. Even in the so-called posh areas one does not find even a patch of grass in front or behind the homes. It is all "Pakka Angans" made of concrete. No trees. No greenery. In the low-income group housing complexes, this situation is worse. Encroachment of every inch of land by people to build additional rooms has insured elimination of trees and greenery. The capital city STINKS. Burning and irritating eyes is a common complaint given by the locals.
The town planners and the Government agencies have also aided and abetted in bringing about this polluted scene. Take for example the gigantic complex of Rohini being built in Delhi. Now in the making for little over a decade, one is disturbed to see the planning of streets and lanes. They are so narrow that there is hardly any room for traffic to move. Where is the scope of planting any trees on the roadsides? This complex in no time would become a modern slum rather than a township!
It is high time that the people came to understand how their lives and welfare are intimately linked with trees. The movement of planting more trees must begin at all levels. Every individual should feel responsible and accountable.
The department of roads and railways should be enforced under law to plant trees on either side of the main roads and highways and the railway tracks, respectively. This will also help in considerable elimination of pollution caused from the auto emissions.
Schools, colleges, universities, associations, public institutions, banks, industries, commercial organizations and even religious bodies should come forward in not only generating awareness but also in helping the plantation of the trees. These organizations can accelerate the process.
The billion people in India, if divided by 5 will make up 200 million nuclear families. If every family takes the initiative of planting just one tree the country can get richer by 200 million trees. The families should "adopt a tree" and make sure that the trees in their neighborhood are not cut. We owe this to not only ourselves, but also to our coming generations. India needs to become healthy and vibrant and that is only possible when one lives in a pollution free environment.
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