The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) has come as a boon to efforts at greening the district.
Over the course of seven years, the Forest Department has raised 30 lakh seedlings using funds available from the State’s drought-mitigation scheme under the MNREGA. The saplings have been distributed to gram panchayats.
They will be planted in public places like schools, government offices, footpaths, road medians, and in grazing lands and bunds.
The seedlings raised include evergreens, biofuel plants and green manure plants, among others. Bidar was among the four districts in the State in which the Union government started the Food for Work programme, which included long-term measures to prevent drought, such as afforestation and development of watersheds.
“We broke down the process into growing saplings of hardy species and evergreen fodder crops, digging pits for the saplings, and building check-dams and earthen bunds with community participation,” said zilla panchayat president Baburao Karbari, adding that the panchayat has planted nearly six lakh saplings in several villages in Aurad, the driest taluk in the district. The Forest Department has planted saplings in vast tracks of degraded land in Alur in Kamal Nagar, Jambagi and Balur and Hippalgaon villages in Aurad taluk.
“This year alone, we have raised over 3.5 lakh saplings under the MNREGA in several nurseries across the district. Nearly one lakh saplings have already been distributed to gram panchayats,” said M. Daulat Hussein, Deputy Conservator of Forests (Social Forestry). “The department will take care of the saplings for the first three years, after which they will be maintained by village or tanda residents, he said.
Neem is the most sought-after plant, and also well-suited to the district’s climate, along with Pongamia and Jatropha, which can be used to manufacture biofuel; Gliricidia, as green manure; vegetable- and fruit-bearing plants like drumstick and mango, and popular plants like kadu badami.
The department has also grown high-value saplings like teak and sandalwood. According to Mr. Hussein, over 10,000 sandalwood saplings are being raised and will be distributed to the public next year, while teak saplings are available in all nurseries in the district. He added that all the saplings will be distributed free of cost.
- Zilla panchayat has already planted six lakh saplings in Aurad taluk
- 10,000 sandalwood saplings are being raised and will be distributed next year