Society for Conservation of Nature


                                                                         Green and golden Srikakulam

Sklm 20 point, 2016-17 087

Cashew plantation raised under ITDA in Bhamini Mandal of Srikakulam district

Andhra Pradesh’s remote, coastal district has turned green and is employing its inhabitants through a number of schemes started by government departments.

Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh lies on the coast of the Bay of Bengal. Scheduled Tribes form 6.15 per cent of the district population as per the 2011 Census of India. In the past few years, Srikakulam has set in place pioneering measures to make itself greener and provide viable opportunities to its economically weaker sections for their upliftment.

The district has done this through a 20-Point Programme that it carried out during 2016-17. The programme was implemented by various arms of the district and state administration namely, the Forest Department, District Water Management Agency (DWMA) and Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) that have implemented afforestation measures under a number of Central schemes.

For instance, the Territorial Forest Division (TFD) has raised teak, miscellaneous and medicinal plantations on 100 hectares of Reserve Forest (RF) under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management Authority (CAMPA) and National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) schemes in order to improve biodiversity. The TFD has also created casuarina and palmyrah plantations along 80 hectares of the district’s seashore under the National Afforestation Project (NAP) and the Andhra Pradesh Disaster Recovery project (APDRP) schemes in order to protect inland areas from the fury of natural disasters like cyclones and tsunamis.

The Social Forestry Division (SFD) has developed avenue plantations under the Special Development Package (SDP) and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) along 90 km of urban roads throughout the district and distributed 25 lakh casuarina, 13 lakh eucalyptus and 3 lakh other miscellaneous plants under MGNREGS to  farmers and government institutions. The trees that have been planted include shade-bearing and flowering plant species like coconut, mahogany, neem, jacaranda, gulmohar and others.

The DWMA has supplied about 6 lakh horticulture plants to more than 87,000 farmers in over 38 mandals of the district for planting. These include species like cashew, mango, lemon, coconut, curry leaf, guava, jackfruit, custard apple, sapota and teak. Cashew, coconut and mango have been supplied to the farmers in order to augment their revenue.  At the same time, other species like lemon, curry leaf, guava, jackfruit, custard apple and sapota have been supplied to individual farmers for raising homestead plantations.

The DWMA has also created avenue plantations along 570 km of rural roads with shade-bearing and flowering tree species Indian Beech, Indian Tulip, EIndian Cherry, African locust bean, Indian Elm and Gulmohar.

Meanwhile, the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) is concentrating on the development of Srikakulam’s tribals through tree planting, by supplying horticulture plant species like mango and cashew, with 100 per cent subsidy for planting in 20 Micro Water Sheds (MWS) and paying Rs0.50/plant/daily for their maintenance for 3 years. Though this is dry land horticulture, purely depending on rain, the tribal farmers cultivate traditional crops like cotton, pigeon pea, etc., as intercrop in the plantations in order to augment their revenue.

Thus, by creating greenery all over the district through tree planting, not only has the tree cover increased, but people belonging to economically weaker sections are being provided with an opportunity to augment their income. Horticultural plants such as mango, cashew and coconut may start yielding after 3-4 years, while other quick growing species like curry leaf, custard apple, lemon, guava and sapota fruit within 2-3 years, enhancing their revenue, leading to economic empowerment. Especially in case of tribals, the subsidy given initially and the financial aid provided subsequently for the maintenance of horticulture plants will definitely pave the way for their leading a comfortable life.

Though the district has got only 12 per cent of forest cover, due to the massive tree planting activities undertaken by different state departments, the tree cover has increased considerably, enabling the area to attain ecological sustainability. The rainfall, ground water table, and the greenery found all over the district bear testimony to this. The district enjoys an annual rainfall of 1075 mm. The average ground water level has risen from 7.03 metres to 3.96 metres in recent years. Vast stretches of paddy fields and hills covered with dense green vegetation are visible in all the directions, except the North, where the sea coast is located. The dedicated activities of various agencies in making the district green through tree planting involving the economically weaker sections of the society have thus helped in not just ecologically sustaining the district but also provided for the economic development of the marginalised sections of the society.

Tuesday 23 October 2018