Jairam Ramesh’s ambitious Rs 46,000-crore 10-year afforestation plan has got the prime minister’s (PM’s) nod, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) said on Wednesday.
Called 'Green India Mission', the project involves adding 10 million hectares to the nation's 40-42 million hectares of good-quality forests, with the long-term target of increasing the 'good' forest cover from 12% to 33% of the total land.
Apart from the 12%, 8% land -- around 28 million hectares -- is technically classified as forests, but "you can see nothing but the sun if you look up", as Ramesh recently put it.
The programme will require the government to increase spending on forestry by 55% from the current Rs8,500 crore a year.
MoEF said after the completion of the project, Indian forests will absorb around 50 to 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2020. Otherwise, Ramesh said, the absorption would fall from 9% to 4.5% in 10 years due to rapid growth.