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Indians plant 220 million trees in a single day

India has pledged to keep a third of its land area under tree cover as part of efforts to fight climate change.

(AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
(AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

By Biswajeet Banerjee, Associated Press

More than a million Indians have planted 220 million trees in a government campaign to tackle climate change and improve the environment in the country’s most populous state.

Forest official Bivhas Ranjan said students, legislators, officials and others planted dozens of species of saplings on Friday along roads, rail tracks and in forest land in northern Uttar Pradesh state. The target of 220 million saplings was achieved by 5pm.

Mr Ranjan said the trees, including 16 fruit species, will increase forest cover in the state.

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Indian schoolchildren hold saplings distributed by the government (Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP)

India has pledged to keep a third of its land area under tree cover, but its 1.3 billion people and rapid industrialisation are hampering efforts.

“We set the target of 220 million because Uttar Pradesh is home to 220 million people,” said state chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

Planting was carried out in 1,430,381 places, including 60,000 villages and 83,000 sites in forest ranges.

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Pupils join the programme in Prayagraj (Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP)

“The whole process is online. The pits are geo-tagged and the saplings carry a QR code. So we can record how many saplings are planted and where,” state government spokesman Awanish Awasthi said.

The long-term survival of trees remains a concern. Usually, about 60% of saplings survive, with the rest succumbing to disease or lack of water, he said.

It was the second huge tree planting campaign in Uttar Pradesh. In July 2016, 50 million saplings were planted in a day.

PA

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