Shillong, Jul 25, 2021, IANS
Meghalaya's Cherrapunji, once credited as the wettest place on Earth, would be adopted by Assam Rifles for an ambitious plantation drive to restore the lost greenery in the world-famous spot, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Sunday.
With the plantation of lakhs of saplings, an ambitious project to make Cherrapunji green again has started on Sunday, he said, noting that Cherrapunji used to have rains throughout the year, but due to indiscriminate tree-felling in the name of development, the situation has changed over the years.
"In Cherrapunji, trees were felled for fuel and other uses. Hence, 80 per cent of the total land would be planted with traditional and long lifespan trees, and the remaining 20 per cent would be used for animal feed, ornamental plants, and nurseries. These plantation strategies would meet all the requirements and help reduce the felling of long lifespan trees," he said after launching the "Green Sohra Afforestation Campaign" at Sohra (Cherrapunji) on the second day of his visit to Meghalaya.
Giving the slogan of "Evergreen Northeast", Shah underlined the importance of afforestation and tree plantation.
On Sunday as part of the tree plantation and mega afforestation drive launched at his initiative, a record number of 16.31 lakh saplings were planted.
"With this technique, multi-level farming is done and the forest grows 30 times faster and after three years, it becomes free of maintenance. Eco-tourism would be greatly benefited by this, besides tourism of Meghalaya would also get a boost," the Home Minister added.
Cherrapunji, 58 km south of Shillong, is a tourism hot spot and the area's once year-round rain earned it a place into the Guinness World Records as the wettest place on earth.
Noting that the Assam Rifles have a history of completing whatever work that has been given to them in the last 180 years in time, he said that all the Central Armed Police Forces are planting trees across the country.
He said that since the last two years, they are also shouldering the responsibility of improving the environment and so far have planted 1.48 crore trees, out of which 1.36 crore plants are growing. This year also, about one crore saplings would be planted in different areas and in Cherrapuji, a target has been set to plant 10 lakh trees in 1,000 hectares in the next three years.
Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) G. Kishen Reddy, Minister of State for Science and Technology and Space Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for DoNER B.L. Verma, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, among others, were also present on the occasion.