Amrit Brikshya Andolan – A people led Afforestation Programme − Himanta Biswa Sarma

♦ In my childhood I always heard stories from my elders on how Assam’s once rich tree cover was rapidly declining over the decades. Later, I realised their anecdotal evidence of rapid deforestation contributed by a variety of factors. In the first two decades of this century, the tree cover in Assam declined by a stunning 11%.

When I entered public life and had the opportunity to visit other States, I was intrigued by the best practices of progressive farmers who diversified their income through commercial tree plantations. Planting a tree, I learnt, had similar attributes to investing in pension schemes. A sapling today, can become an asset many years later.

It was Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of Mission LiFE that inspired us to come up with an intervention to nudge citizens to undertake simple acts that can contribute to both a greener climate and greener economy. Keeping citizens at the heart of our every effort – a philosophy rooted at the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s governance model – the Government of Assam has launched the Amrit Brikshya Andolan. This initiative is being executed with active involvement from the public, emphasizing Jan Bhagidari.

Amrit Brikha Andolan Registration, Apply Online Link, - Raj Neet

Amrit Brikshya is mass public movement that translate into planting 1.3 cr commercially viable saplings on a single day. To celebrate the untiring efforts of the Hon’ble Prime Minsiter to build a global network of Pro-Planet People, we have selected his birthday as the date to launch this monumental effort.

Amrit Brikshya intends to achieve two objective. First, to win back Asssam’s lost forest cover and make our a State a net contributor of green action. Second objective is to lay the foundation of a viable tree economy in the State and give households an alternative source of income. Amrit Brikshya will boost Agro Forestry and Wood Based Industry (WBI) leading to employment generation in downstream industries. At the same time, it would create a huge carbon sink which will contribute to the NDCs goal submitted by India to the UN framework convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Technology is a critical pillar for this movement. The Government has launched a Mobile Application (Amrit Brikshya Andolan App) and a website for registration of volunteers. As a token of appreciation, the government intends to encourage participants by providing Rs 100 each on the successful plantation and uploading of a geotagged & timestamped photo on the app. Rs 200 will be provided if the plant survives two years and evidence is provided on the app again in the form of a geotagged & timestamped photo.

The government has roped in grassroots-level community groups, such as Self-Help Groups, ASHA workers, Anganwadi workers, tea garden workers, and members of educational institutions, to expand the initiative’s reach to the last mile. What sets this Andolan apart is its pioneering women-led approach to tree planting, making it an innovative effort that advances economic and social empowerment for women. By actively engaging women in all facets of the initiative, it offers frontline workers, particularly women, a platform to showcase their leadership capabilities and contribute significantly to environmental preservation.

To give a Amrit Brikshya a sound legal framework, our government has made significant change in regulations relating to the forestry sector. Aimed to enhance the Ease of Doing Business, government has recently enacted the Assam Wood Based Industry (Promotional and Development) Rules 2022 and Tree Outside Forest (Sustainable Management) Rules 2022. These regulations will exempt farmers/growers from obtaining permission for felling trees outside forest areas. The objective is to incentivize them to cultivate commercially valuable tree species. This approach seeks to raise their earnings, enhance the state’s forested areas, and entice investments in industries related to timber and wood products.
Assam is expecting to achieve a significant number of world records through this Jan Bhagidari Andolan. Such as largest sapling distribution, most trees planted by a team of 100 in 1 hour, largest tree Mosaic among many others. People of the State have already shown their enthusiasm. Over 47 lakh people have already joined this movement through our app.

Amrit Briskhya is considered to be a an ongoing and continuous endeavor and not merely an event. We intend to plant 3 crore sapling in 2024 and another 5 cr sapling in 2025. In short, in the next 2 years we shall have planted 9 cr trees in the State through this campaign. This movement exemplifies our resolve to launch an andolan that secures our present and improves our future.
The writer is Chief Minister of Assam

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