Maha govt forms panel to probe tree plantation during BJP rule

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Mumbai, Mar 10 (PTI) The Maharashtra government on Wednesday announced setting up of a committee to conduct a probe into the drive of planting 33 crore trees in the state when the BJP was in power.

Minister of State for Forests Dattatray Bharne said in the Assembly that he will head the committee which, apart from him, will comprise 16 MLAs.

The tree plantation drive was undertaken when BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis was the chief minister and the Shiv Sena, now heading the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, was his ally.

The committee will submit its report in the House in four months, Bharne said.

The assurance to probe the campaign was given after Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh Korgaonkar asked in the House last week how many trees were actually planted during the drive.

Noting that 75.63 per cent of the trees survived by the end of October last year, he had asked whether the remaining saplings died.

Bharne had then said the forest department received Rs 2,429.78 crore between 2016-17 and 2019-20 to implement the special drive.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar last week said in the Assembly that a state Legislature committee will be formed before March 31 to probe into the tree plantation drive and the panel will submit its report in four months.

If need be, the panel will be given additional two months to submit its report, Pawar had said.

Apart from Bharne, the panel comprises Nana Patole, Sangram Thopte, Amit Zanak, Subhash Dhote (all of the Congress), Sunil Prabhu, Udaysinh Rajput, Balaji Kalyankar (Shiv Sena), Ashok Pawar, Manikrao Kokate, Sunil Bhusara, Shekhar Nikam (NCP), Ashish Shelar, Nitesh Rane, Atul Bhatkhalkar, Samir Kunakar (BJP) and Narendra Bondekar (Independent). PTI MR GK GK