Only 0.14 million hectares land of the 5 million hectares target have been covered in 5 years
The central government’s afforestation scheme, Green India Mission (GIM), was able to only achieve 2.8 per cent of its plantation target, according to the Economic Survey released by the Ministry of Finance on January 29, 2021.
The target of the 10-year scheme flagged off in 2015 is to increase forest/tree cover on 5 million hectares (m ha) of forest/non-forest land and improve the quality of forest cover on another 5 m ha area.
However, as of March 2020, plantation under the scheme was undertaken only over 0.14 m ha land.
“The various afforestation activities, including tree plantation, were taken up over 8.49 m ha area from 2015-16 to 2019-20 under the various schemes of the Central Government, inclusive of 0.14 m ha under this mission,” the survey says.
A 2018 parliamentary committee report on GIM found that the scheme was grossly underfunded.
"The scheme is proposed for 10 years with an outlay of Rs 60,000 crore. During 2017-18, Rs 47.8 crore was allocated for the scheme which is grossly insufficient as the committed liability for 2015-16 and 2016-17 is Rs 89.53 crore which is much more than the budget allocated,” the report titled Performance of the National Action Plan on Climate Change pertaining to Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change’ said.
The report found that the scheme had also missed its targets by 34 per cent in both 2015-16 and 2016-17 financial years. Instead of the targeted 67,956 ha, only 44,749 ha land got green cover each year.
The committee also pointed out that the afforestation done under the mission was only aimed at increasing tree count without considering the soil and weather conditions. “Trees like eucalyptus were planted which make environmental problems worse rather than solving it. Planting of unsuitable trees may cause drought and prevent biodiversity in the regions,” the report said.
GIM was introduced with the aim to protect, restore and enhance India’s forest cover. It takes a holistic view on greening and focuses on multiple ecosystem services along with carbon sequestration and emission reduction as co-benefits.
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