Kamal Nath govt launches probe into massive plantation drive of Shivraj Singh Chouhan govt

The single-day drive to plant 6.6 crore saplings along Narmada to replenish the river gathered controversy when Hindu seers alleged corruption and announced to organise Narmada Ghotala Yatra

The MP govt had launched a drive to plant 6.6 crore saplings along Narmada (in pic) to revive the river.
The MP govt had launched a drive to plant 6.6 crore saplings along Narmada (in pic) to revive the river.

Kashif Kakvi

The Madhya Pradesh government has ordered an inquiry into the massive plantation drive organised by the previous Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led administration on the banks of Naramda river on July 2, 2017.

The drive to plant a whopping 6.6 crore saplings along the Narmada river across the state in a single day was the brainchild of the then chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The government had later applied for the Guinness World Record.

However, after spending crores of rupees and engaging nearly the entire government machinery in the plantation drive, the erstwhile BJP government failed to get the world record status.

Madhya Pradesh Forest Minister Umang Singhar said that he has personally checked a site in Betul and found only 2,343 plants while the records said there were 15,625. He ordered a probe on June 28 and has asked for the report in seven days.

The minister has also suspended four department officials and transferred a Divisional Forest Officer. Sources say the government might take action against some senior Indian Forest Service officials too who were involved in the plantation drive.

The forest minister said: “I personally visited Shahpur forest circle in Betul district, accompanied by the principal chief conservator of forest, head of the forest force and PCCF (wildlife). We found only 15% to 20% plants had

survived. Besides, the number of holes made for planting saplings were only 50% to 60% (of those on record).”

“If this is the case with one forest circle, I suspect irregularities in other places too. I have sought the inquiry report within a week from June 28, the day I ordered the inquiry,” he added.

The issue gathered a controversy when opposition Congress and Hindu seers alleged corruption in the drive. Later, Computer Baba along with five other seers announced to organise ‘Narmada Ghotala Yatra’ to expose the corruption in the state government’s plantation drive.

However, the yatra was called off when Chouhan accorded Minister of State status to five seers.

The Congress, nevertheless, had termed it a scam and promised to probe the matter if it came to power in the state.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh was the first to flag the issue, and called it a “ghotala”.

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Published: 03 Jul 2019, 9:23 PM