Patna: Bihar`s ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U) is set to launch a campaign to plant five million saplings over the next two years, a party leader said Monday.
After a successful signature campaign seeking special category status for Bihar, the JD-U will launch `Harit Bihar Abhiyan Rath` (Green Bihar Campaign) Sep 3 to involve party cadres to plant saplings and create awareness on the issue.
According to official data, Bihar has only a fragile 6.87 percent forest cover. Forest officials admit that Bihar lost most of its green cover when the state of Jharkhand was carved out of it in 2000.
Undivided Bihar had a forest cover of 17 percent.
Last month, the JD-U handed over signatures of 12.5 million people to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding a special category status for Bihar.
State JD-U president Vasishth Narain Singh said the proposed yatra is part of the party`s initiative of planting five million saplings in the next two to three years.
The party has asked all its members to plant at least one sapling.
"We will visit rural areas to ensure success of the green Bihar campaign on ground, not only on paper. All the legislators and ministers of the party have been directed to monitor the campaign in their respective areas," Singh told reporters.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar kicked off the green drive Aug 11 from his native village -- Kalyanbigha in Nalanda district. It was Kumar who made planting a sapling mandatory for JD-U members and also for renewal of party membership.
Singh said that his party was the first political party in the country to include plantation in its agenda.
"We have decided to involve all party leaders and workers in the drive by tagging it with the party`s membership drive," he said.
He said that the party aimed to enrol five million members, and each new member too will have to plant at least one sapling.
The green drive is the brainchild of Nitish Kumar, who was impressed by Dharhara, a small village 230 km east of here in Bhagalpur district.
The village hit headlines two years ago as the villagers planted fruit trees, including mango and litchi, to celebrate the birth of every girl child there. Their pledge to nature has made the place a green haven.