In the august presence of Minister of Railways, Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu and Minister of State (IC) for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding “plantation of trees alongside Railway Track on Railway Land Boundary” was signed today i.e. 2nd May, 2015 between Ministry of Railways and Forest Department of Haryana & Punjab of Haryana. The Minister of State for Forest Department was specially present on the occasion. Chairman, Railway Board, Shri A.K. Mital, Special Secretary & DG (Forest), Shri S.S. Negi, Member Engineering, Shri V.K. Gupta and other Board Members, and other senior officials were also present on the occasion. The MoU was signed by Shri Pankaj Saxena, Chief Engineer /P&D, Northern Railway on behalf of Railways whereas it was by Dr. (Mrs.) Amrinder Kaur, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF).
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu said that natural resources like water and trees are priceless god gifted natural resource without which one cannot imagine life thus proper use and conservation of the same needs intense care. He said that care and conservation of the trees is not only the responsibility of the Ministry of MOEFCC but it is the responsibility of every citizen of India to protect trees and thus Railways initiated the step of providing railway land for the use of plantation. He said that Railways wants to take integrated steps to maintain in the field of forest, water, energy, solar system etc etc. and thus a specific Directorate of Environment has recently been established in the Railways Board to address all the environmental issues. He said that all States should be sensitized to establish Nurseries in their respective State. Railway Minister said that plantation alongside the Railway Track will stop soil erosion which has been a reason of rail accidents in recent past. Railway Minister further stated that this Plantation Programme would be further expanded and all railway colonies will also be done with Plantation. He further said that before plantation it has be ascertained which trees are to be planted as per ecosystem of that area. He said that instead of exotic trees indigenous trees should be grown according to the climate. He said that natural resources are of utmost importance and thus Railway will also start rain water harvesting not only in big buildings but in small building also. He said that Railways will include lots of volunteers also in this programme for a grand success. He said that Railways will work as a Territorial Army to implement this programme and RPF personnel will also be used for plantation programme. He said that a Coordinating Committee of both Railway and State Govt. will be set up at Zonal and Divisional Level Railway for proper coordination with the MoEFCC. He made an appeal from NGOs and Religious Groups to participate in this Nobel cause of planting tree.
Speaking on the occasion, Shri Prakash Javadekar, Minister of State (IC) for Environment, Forest and Climate Change said that today’s programme is in line with Prime Minister’s Swacch Bharat, Swacch Harit Bharat. He said that Indian Railways and Highways have approximately 86000 KM and 1,50000 KM alongside track which can be used to the best for the plantation work. He said that the Ministry of MOEFCC holds a big portfolio and thus is committed for sustainable development which cannot be fulfilled without afforstation programmes all over India. He said that apart from Railway Ministry, Ministry of MoEFCC is working on Public Private Partnership for such other plantation programmes for upgradation of environment. He said that for development purposes trees have been cut on various occasion but their re-plantation programme has always been 99 percent successful. He said that their Ministry will issue directives to all States to establish Nurseries where plants of more than 8 feet will be grown.
SILENT FEATURE OF THE AGREEMENT
A model agreement for plantation on railway land was signed between the Sate Forest departments and Railway administration after a series of discussions between the officials of the Railway Board, Ministry of Environment & Forest departments of Haryana and Punjab.
This agreement paves way for the following improvements with regard to afforestation on railway land:-
(i) Railway can contribute substantially towards the Green India Mission.
(ii) Forest department is involved in the plantation as well as maintenance and disposal of trees, thus bringing in the much needed expertise in afforestation.
(iii) Plantation along the railway track on railway land boundary by Forest department without declaring such land as protected forest with the provision for resumption of such land at any time by railways thus no hindrance to railway works / developmental projects.
(iv) Protecting railway land from encroachment.
To start with, this agreement has been signed between Northern Railway and Forest departments of Punjab and Haryana States on the 02nd May, 2016, at Rail Bhawan to pave way for planting 5 lakh trees during this season.
All Zonal railways have been asked to execute similar agreement between their zones and concerned State Forest departments as early as possible. Execution of such agreements at the earliest will pave way for making a start on the plantation of trees along side track boundaries before the ensuring monsoon.