Hyderabad: The government’s flagship tree plantation initiative, Haritha Haram, which was introduced in 2015, is facing a serious fund crunch that makes it difficult to maintain the saplings that have been planted.
Government figures show that the seventh phase of the initiative was completed with 85 per cent success rate and planting of 258.137 crore sapling. However, several villages and mandals, according to sources, are having trouble planting and caring for the thousands of government-provided plants.
“The plantation has been going on for eight years and there is not enough space for the plantation. So they are doing the plantation at the roadside every year,” Ghatkesar mandal parishad president Y. Surdarshan Reddy told Deccan Chronicle.
The primary concern is maintenance and survival. The success rate for plantation survival is only 5-10% after a year. “Issues such as animals damaging the plants as there is no fencing and electricity board chopping the trees are making it difficult for the plants to survive,” he stated.
He expressed concern about the funds, saying, “We have to adjust within the funds provided. Every year, there is a nearly 50 per cent gap between the funds available and the funds needed to complete the plantation. We have written to the relevant authorities and officers, but to no avail.”
D. Narsimha Reddy, a city environmentalist, expressed his concerns about the programme’s ground realities in terms of supply chain and maintenance. “An independent audit can provide accurate information about the survival rate of plantations,” he said. According to the data, the overall survival rate in the state is less than 20 per cent, he added.
According to him, the government amended the Panchayat Raj Act in 2018 and the Municipality Act in 2019, including a provision that any elected representative who fails to carry out the plantation programme will be suspended. Instead of a monetary incentive, they put the onus on the representative. As a result, the representatives are spending funds from their own pockets for the plantation and maintenance.
“To gauge success, there are two indicators: one is that the floods have not stopped, and the second is that summer temperatures continue to rise. Both climate issues would be mitigated to some extent if the greenery increased with such an unprecedented number of plantations,” he added.
“If you look at the city, many saplings have been removed within 2-3 years because of developmental works. We don’t know if these are the saplings planted under the Haritha Haram programme. The plantation has been undertaken by a number of bodies, including HMDA, GHMC, HGCL, and SRDP, making it difficult to keep track of who is planting how many saplings,” said city conversationalist Uday Krishna.
“The success rate is high in the state’s northern districts and villages, such as Nirmal, Karimnagar, Sircilla, Adilabad, and Nizamabad, where saplings along the roads are flourishing.” However, many plants are removed for development purposes in the city. “The figures look good only on paper, but we can’t say the same about the ground reality,” he added.