Bar­ren land turns into a green zone

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - HT NAVI MUMBAI - Shashikant Kothekar [email protected]­dus­tan­

While the city was turn­ing into a con­crete jun­gle with ram­pant con­struc­tion, a 25-acre bar­ren land was qui­etly be­ing turned into a green zone.

Around 25 kms from Thane near Bhavale vil­lage on ThaneNashik high­way, 30,000 trees were planted in seven years.

The land be­longs to the for­est depart­ment and was given to the NGO Hariyali to turn it into a green zone. On Sun­day, the NGO will hand over the land to the for­est depart­ment.

Deputy for­est con­ser­va­tor Kishor Thack­eray said: “We signed an agree­ment with the NGO Hariyali and al­lowed them plan­ta­tion for seven years. There are five small lakes and 15 small dams in the area which were ly­ing ne­glected and un­used. The NGO mem­bers gave a new life to the wa­ter bod­ies. The green cover as well as the ground Thane-based NGO Hariyali con­verted 25 acres of bar­ren land in Lonad Vil­lage, Bhi­wandi, into for­est in seven years.

wa­ter ta­ble level in the area has in­creased.”

The NGO spent Rs7 lakh for the project which was funded by cor­po­rates un­der cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity. “We first planted 10,000 saplings but they

were burned in a fire in 2008. We re­planted the saplings. We have now planted 30,000 trees on the land in seven years,” Poonam Singhvi, chair­man of Hariyali.

The two vil­lages near the plot, Lonad and Bhavale, have also ben­e­fit­ted from the project.

Ev­ery sum­mer, the vil­lagers used to face wa­ter scarcity and de­pended on tanker wa­ter. The project im­proved the ground wa­ter ta­ble level and solved the wa­ter woes of the res­i­dents.

“The wells and borewells in our vil­lage do not go dry in May,” said Ma­hesh Patil, 42, a res­i­dent of Lonad vil­lage.

Singhvi said that they have hired two se­cu­rity guards to pro­tect the green cover till they grow.

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