BIHAR : Authorities in Bihar are set to launch a massive afforestation drive in villages located along the banks of the Ganga river with the twin objectives to prevent soil erosion and recharge groundwater in the Ganga basin.
The plantation drive is being launched as part of the Namami Gange project under which a total of 5 crore plants are to be planted across India, with a total budget of Rs 100.12 crore.
In Bihar, 100 such open defecation free (ODF) villages located along the river have been selected for the drive, although the total number of ODF villages in the state is 472.
Of the 100 villages selected for plantation in Bihar, 22 fall in Munger district, 20 in Bhagalpur, 12 each in Begusarai and Purnia, 10 in Samastipur, eight in Patna, six in Vaishali and five each in Bhojpur and Saran districts.
As part of the plan, 2,500 saplings are to be the planted on lands owned by local villagers, but they will be taken care of by the forest department till they grow into trees, officials said.
“We have selected the villagers for plantation and the drive is to be launched soon,” divisional forest officer Sunil Kumar Sinha told Down to Earth.
Sinha said that the drive will not affect the land of farmers as the trees will be restricted to the boundary. “Apart from lessening pollution, the plantation will also boost economy of the farmers since they can earn additionally from the sale of fruits and woods,” he added.
Villagers, too, are happy with the project. “This will indeed boost our economy and help lessen our poverty. Apart from routine cultivation, we can also earn money by selling fruits or wood. This is in the interest of both farmers and environment,” said Shiv Prakash Rai, a farmer from Bhojpur.
Bihar achieved the task of making all the 472 villages located along the banks of the Ganges ODF. Open defecation along the banks of the Ganges was one of the main causes of pollution in the sacred river.
The Ganges which enters Bihar at Buxur passes through 12 other districts before moving into West Bengal, but most of the homes located on its bank didn’t have toilets earlier.
“We are happy to inform that all the homes located on the banks of river Ganga have toilets now. This is a significant step towards checking water pollution and restoring the pristine glory of the river,” state Rural Development Minister Shrawan Kumar said recently.