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Rs 21.17 crore from District Mineral Foundation spent on plantation in a year

A total of over Rs 7.33 crore was spent for plantation of 20 lakh seedlings in six ranges including Rourkela under Panposh.

Published: 23rd October 2021 09:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd October 2021 09:11 AM   |  A+A-

Saplings, Plantation, plant, green, ecofriendly

Over Rs 2.42 crore was spent for raising 10 lakh seedlings for distribution in Rourkela. (Representational Image)

By Express News Service

ROURKELA: The Forest department has come under scanner for reportedly spending over Rs 21.17 crore on plantation drives from Sundargarh District Mineral Foundation (DMF) funds, mostly in Rourkela Municipal Corporation (RMC) area. 

If an RTI reply from the DMF is to be believed, Rourkela Forest Division (RFD) spent Rs 21.17 crore in its six ranges, majority of the amount being spent in RMC limits under Panposh range. The massive plantation programmes were purportedly carried out during the monsoon season in 2020. 

Accordingly, for artificial regeneration (AR) in Rourkela, block plantation was carried out over 100 hectare (ha) for above Rs 1.90 crore. Under aided natural regeneration (ANR), 600 ha was covered with 400 plants per hectare for above Rs 2.21 crore. Similarly, another ANR plantation was carried out over 700 ha with 200 plants per hectare for Rs 1.90 crore. 

Under urban tree plantation, 30,000 saplings were planted in the city for more than Rs 1.68 crore and over Rs 1.41 crore spent on planting of 30,000 saplings with three years maintenance cost. Over Rs 2.42 crore was spent for raising 10 lakh seedlings for distribution in Rourkela. 

A total of over Rs 7.33 crore was spent for plantation of 20 lakh seedlings in six ranges including Rourkela under Panposh. Separately, over Rs 1.41 crore was spent on plantation of 25,000 trees with three years maintenance in Rajgangpur municipality, Rs 77.64 lakh for planting of 15,000 saplings in Birmitrapur town and Rs 22.58 lakh for 5,000 saplings in Kuanrmunda with three years maintenance. 

What raises doubt is the fact that the area under RMC limits spreading over nearly 53 sq km is virtually bald with no thick greenery. Besides, the city is lacking open space and artificial forests leave little scope for block plantation or ANR over such a vast stretch of 100 ha to 700 ha. 

In contrast, the jurisdiction of Rourkela Steel Plant spread over nearly 48 sq km, wears a thick green canopy with about 53 lakh trees grown over the last six decades. Senior Congress leader Rashmi Ranjan Padhi, who obtained the RTI reply from the DMF, alleged it is nothing but a plantation scam.

The Vigilance should dig out the truth behind the spending of such a whopping amount of Rs 21.17 crore on plantation in RFD. Since DMF fund is involved, it is a fit case for probe by the CBI and CAG audit, he added. It was carried out during the tenure of tainted Additional PCCF (Afforestration & Planning) Abhay Kant Pathak.

Contacted, Rourkela DFO Yeswant Sethi said since he took charge recently, he is not aware of the complete DMF fund spending. He would be able to comment after going through the files, the DFO added.  
 



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