Maharashtra government is set to receive Rs 2,000 crore from the Centre in next three years under Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority and is keen on setting up an ‘eco-battalion’ to increase green cover, Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said.
To increase the green cover in the state, the Forest department is keen on reviving eco-battalion concept for large scale tree plantation, Mungantiwar told PTI.
“Retired Army personnel will be roped-in under the eco-battalion (concept) and will be asked to plant, protect and grow the plants. The battalion will utilise the funds meant for afforestation across the state,” he said.
The discussions to this effect were held during a meeting on Saturday in Aurangabad where all senior officers from the Forest department participated. The day-long meeting primarily discussed about improving forest cover in the state.
“The districts like Osmanabad, Beed, Parbhani and Latur have large stretches of barren land, which is technically with forest department but there is no green cover. The eco-battalion will be given these districts in the first phase for improvement of green cover,” he said.
Eco-battalion concept was introduced during the rule of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and successfully launched in Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. Each battalion is of 108 personnel.
When asked about the reasons behind choosing ex-Army personnel, Mungantiwar said these people are already trained to carry out major works with high discipline, efficiency and speed, he said.