State’s sapling plantation drive an eyewash: Actor Sayaji Shinde

Mumbai: Veteran actor and environment enthusiast Sayaji Shinde on Sunday criticised the Maharashtra government, calling its drive of planting 33 crore saplings as merely an “eyewash”.

He said despite carrying out large-scale plantation and spending crores on the drive, the government was not taking enough steps to ensure survival of the saplings planted earlier.

Shinde himself had been an active participant of the government’s saplings plantation drive since the beginning of the project launched under the leadership of state Forests Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.

“I have serious doubts about the actual results of this drive going on every year even as the number of saplings (being planted) is swelling. I had warned Mungantiwar in the very first year that his ambitious project should not end up with plantation of new saplings in the same ditch every year,” he said.

“There might have been large-scale plantation, but the survival rate must have been minimal...The drive is an eyewash,” he added.

Shinde, who began his career as a Marathi actor and went on to act in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada films as well, hails from Man tehsil in Satara district.

He has been planting saplings on government-recognised areas. “I have even appointed people and paid wages to them to take care of the saplings.

I am not sure the state govt has taken so much effort. Hence, I have serious doubts about the survival rate of the planted saplings,” he said. “There should be a proper audit of this project as the government is spending crores on it without any substantial outcome.

The government employees undertake plantation as a duty and not as a mission. I found none of them were ever interested in protecting and growing the plants. They planted it as govt ordered them to do so,” said the actor.

State Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar hit back saying Shinde must have made the remarks out of “ignorance”.

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