Odisha govt’s Green Mahanadi Mission stuck in limbo

Sambalpur: With an aim to prevent soil erosion and create a green belt along the banks of Mahanadi river, the Green Mahanadi Mission was launched by the Odisha Government last year but it seems it was a mere advertisement to gain political mileage.

The mission was launched in a high-profile event in Sambalpur last year. Many saplings were planted along the Ring Road under the Green Mahanadi Mission. However, in the absence of proper care and watering, many saplings have withered and died much before they could grow into sturdy trees.

While the nets installed to cover the saplings on the stretch have allegedly disappeared, the rest of the saplings have been grazed by cattle.

According to the data of the State Forest Department, around 1,300 saplings have been planted so far on the stretch but locals allege that the number will be way less then that.

“The main aim of Green Mahanadi Mission was to plant trees for soil conservation in Mahanadi River banks and restore green cover but the real picture is different. Mostly, flower plants have been planted along the Ring Road where there are no big trees. Among those planted, 80 per cent have either died or dried up and those left have been taken away by the people,” a Sambalpur resident Manas Ranjan Buxi alleged.

“This is nothing but misuse of government funds,” added Buxi.

Another resident, Suresh Mahanta, said, “We thought the plantation drive will restore greenery back in the region but nothing happened. Whatever trees are left, they are also on the verge of dying.”

Notably, the mission was inaugurated on June 5, 2018 which was attended by leaders and bureaucrats who flagged off the initiative by planting trees on Ring Road.

However, the Forest Department has allegedly failed to protect the saplings planted in the town.

Forest Ranger of Sambalpur Town, Gouri Shankar Das, said, “People are ignorant about the issue. We have organised sabhas and samitis in Ring Road and others areas of the town to spread awareness among the people but there is still a lack of awareness among them.”