New Delhi: As the world is marking Environment Day on June 5, (Friday), India’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar launched a massive afforestation drive called “urban forest programme” in 200 corporation cities of India.
The theme for World Environment Day this year is ‘biodiversity’ and thus elaborating on the theme, he emphasised that India has been able to preserve 8 per cent of the world’s biodiversity despite the constraints it faced. He said: “India has 16 per cent human population of the world. We have 16 per cent population of cattle in the world. Both require land, water and food. We have only 2.5 per cent of the world’s landmass and only 4 per cent of natural water resources.”
The underlying idea behind the ‘urban forest programme’ is to increase forestry in urban areas, which largely, have sparse green covers. “We have forests in rural areas but not much in urban areas. In many cities, there are two to three forests but we need more of them. Therefore, we have brought the scheme of urban forests,” said Javadekar while addressing the virtual celebration of World Environment Day 2020.
The Union Minister emphasized that in cities, there are gardens but they lack forests. “We have to create forests so we decided to launch an urban forest programme in 200 corporation cities of India,” he said.
“We will fund it to some extent to compound it and to carry out minimum services there,” he stated.
The minister said that the government seeks to mobilise people’s participation in the programme and make it a people’s movement and is even planning a reward for creation of good forests in PPP mode. Urging everyone to work together in the initiative, he suggested mapping of forestlands and degraded lands in cities and reserving those for creation of urban forests.
He also stressed that people’s lifestyle is inseparably connected with nature.
Hours before the launch of the virtual celebration on the occasion, Javadekar had appealed people to take up some environment friendly tasks to mark the day, like planting a tree that would create oxygen bank for life. In a series of tweets, he urged people to save electricity and water.
“On World Environment Day do something environment friendly. Plant a tree ensure its growth wherever possible. This will create oxygen bank for life. This is how we can grow our tree cover and create additional carbon sink,” he
He also tweeted: “We are proud of our rich biodiversity on this world environment day. As this year’s theme is biodiversity . I wish all the best on the World Environment Day.”