Himachal to be developed as Herbal Garden of the country

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Shimla, Jul 3 (UNI) The Himachal Pradesh Government has drawn an ambitious plan to develop the state as 'Herbal Garden' with active involvement of rural families.

Giving details of the programme at a press conference here, forest minister JP Nadda said the plan would be launched on 'Van Mahotsava' day on August three and each of 12.22 lakh rural families would be given saplings of medicinal plants to raise trees on their own land.

In all, 14,01,341 plants of 57 species identified for the purpose by the forest department would be distributed.

In the urban areas the people would be encouraged to grow medicinal plants in pots and kitchen gardens as land is scarce in the towns and surrounding areas.

Mr Nadda said the objective of the plan is to make the afforestation programme a mass movement by involving every family in the state.

The plants would be provided free of cost by the forest departments and species to be planted in a particular area would be decided on the basis of the agro-climatic conditions, he added.

The programme would be implemented in three phases from tomorrow when the exercise for transporting saplings of plants from 600 nurseries to the respective ranges beat and finally the families would get under way.

''The department has done sufficient ground work and is confident that the distribution of saplings for first phase starting on August 3 would be completed well in time.'' Meetings would be held with Gram Panchayats for furnishing detailed information and logistic support for making the programme a success.

State Chief Minister PK Dhumal would launch the campaign from the state capital by planting a sapling, while ministers would do so in various districts, the MLAs in their constituencies and panchayat functionaries in their respective areas.

Mahila Mandals and Non-government organisation would also be involved in the unique programme which would revive the old tradition of growing 'useful' plants by people as a part of their culture and religion.

In the next phase, the normal afforestation by the department would be carried out, under which new plantations would be raised over 20,000 hectare of area.

It would be followed by compensatory afforestation programme to cover 1800 hectare in 37 selected blocks.

The total number of saplings planted along with break up of the species and cost incurred would be made public to bring transparency in the system, Mr Nadda added.

UNI AS PS SK BST0910

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