Jaipur: In an effort to transform 100 hectares of dry hilly area in Rajasthan’s Banswara district, tribal people of the region are carrying out a massive drive of planting around 50,000 saplings.
With the help of the forest department, over 700 residents of three villages are carrying out the drive in the Babadev Khajuri Dungra Forest, around 40 km from Banswara city, which is likely to bring a significant change in the region.
Fifteen different species of saplings, including Sagwan, Khair, Bamboo, Babool, Kachnar, Amla, Arjuna, Jamun, Kali Karanj, Kadaya, Gada Palash, Banyan and Peepal are being planted.
“The work has been almost completed. It will not only increase the forest cover but also provide fruits and fulfil firewood and fodder demands of the locals and their livestock,” said Dalji, the president of the Dungra Forest Management Protection Committee.
Trenches have been dug while check dams and earthen dams have been built to conserve water and irrigate the saplings, he said. The forest department deployed excavation machines to build the earthen dams and trenches that would conserve rainwater.
Dalji said the committee will look after the saplings for the next five years and will also plant new ones if some of them don’t survive.
In January this year, the forest department sensitised the tribal people about the need for making a collective effort to increase the forest cover in the region. It took more than four months to dig pits and the plantation drive will be completed by July end.
“It was difficult for villagers and the forest team to get the work done on the dry hills during summer. But the villagers have worked hard to bring a change in the area. As many as 50,000 saplings are being planted on 100 hectares of land,” Forester Ramesh Mayda said.
Tents were set up to provide shade to the workers. The bigger challenge was to carry drinking water to the hills for the workers, but the villagers accomplished the task.
Banswara Divisional Conservator of Forest Jignesh Sharma said the effort will not only lead to an increase in the forest cover in the region but will also provide the locals with firewood and fruits.
“The steps taken to increase the forest cover will have a far-reaching impact. It provides work to the villagers apart from a better environment and sources of livelihood,” Sharma said.