In a bid to expand the green cover, the Maharashtra government yesterday signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Railways, under which trees will be planted on the land adjacent to the railway tracks in the state. “In order to increase the state’s forest cover from 20 per cent to 33 per cent, largescale forest and non-forest plantation is necessary. Considering this, we had sought Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu’s consent for planting trees on the land beside the railway lines and converting that area into a green zone,” state Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, who also holds charge of Forest department, said today.
After a year of follow-up, the MoU was signed between the government and the Railways on April 22, he said. The agreement was signed by General Director of Social Forestry Department, Maharashtra, and Chief Engineer of the Central Railway, in presence of the minister. “This MoU will be a significant step towards achieving the concept of green Maharashtra as visualised by us. After a record-breaking tree plantation of last year, we are committed to plant 4 crore trees on July 1 this year,” Mungantiwar said.
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The minister said the support extended by the Railways for the government’s efforts to increase forest cover in the state through public participation is highly valuable. The state Forest department had planted 2 crore 83 lakh trees across the state on July 1 last year, a feat recognised by the Limca Book of world records.