Bhubaneswar:12/7/23: A special tree plantation drive was conducted to mark the celebration of ‘Azadi ki Amrit Mahotsav’ AKAM in honour of the country’s 75 years of Independence by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). As a part of this commemoration, 1000 nos. of tall healthy mostly indigenous seedlings were planted at each of the identified17 locations in a single day along the national highways to boost the ambient aesthetics of the National Highways. Similar drive is being carried out nationwide in many different land parcels of NHAI. For the Odisha state mega plantation drives was conducted in NH stretches ofRajamunda to Barkot (NH-143), Bhubaneswar-Puri (NH-316), Chandikhole to Bhadrak (NH-16),Angul to Sambalpur (NH-55), Teleibani to Sambalpur (NH-06) wherein the officials of NHAI have participated.
This is actively organised by the concerned Project Directors. Other than this, PIU-Koraput, Nabarangpur, Dhenkanal and Berhampur also conducted plantation drives, Cuttack Angul Package-I and Package-II of NH-55, Talcher-Kamakhyanagar bypass end (NH 200), Kamakhyanagar Bypass end to-Duburi (NH-53), Duburi- Chandikhole (NH-200),Puintola to Ichhapuram (NH-16)andatinterchanges, way side amenities and Amrit Sarovars of Raipur-Visakhapatnam (NH 130 CD).The event provided an opportunity for people to connect with nature and understand the significance of tree plantation in the monsoon season in mitigating climate change and preserving biodiversity. The local school and college students were encouraged to participate in the awareness program to enable them to enhance their intellectual, social, personal and emotional growth. The locals also participated in the drive enthusiastically and helped each other in planting the saplings. The tree plantation program of NHAI includes both avenue and median plantations. Dr. Braja Narayan Mohanty, Joint Advisor (Environment & Plantation) highlighted that the Tree Plantation drive was aimed at combating many environmental issues like deforestation, erosion of soil, global warming and hence enhancing the beauty and balance of the environment along the national highways.
The trees will also absorb the dust and poisonous gases from the vehicles and it will help in reducing noise pollution. Tall and healthy saplings like Neem, Mahaneem, Karanja, Jamun, Mahaghony, Arjun, Indian Almond, Lagerstroemiaetc act as a noise barrier and absorb dust from the roads. Median species like Bougainvillea, Ceaselpinia and Tecoma block the high beam light from the other end in night and also add aesthetic value to the commuters. Local authorities also played a crucial role in the success of the event. Their support and collaboration allowed for the smooth execution of the plantation drive, further emphasizing the importance of community partnerships in achieving environmental sustainability. The impact of this plantation drive extends beyond the immediate environmental benefits. The encroachment along the National Highways is minimised up to many extent. It has generated a sense of unity and shared responsibility among community members, fostering a collective commitment to protect and preserve the natural resources of the state of Odisha. The event serves as an encouraging reminder that individual actions, when combined as a mass movement, can lead to significant positive transformation.
Shri Sampad Sahoo, Plantation Manager informed that the single-day program was celebrated nation-wide is closed by the evening 6:00 PM however, the implementation of the Annual Plantation Action Plan 2023-24 will go on at several sites till the end of the monsoon season. Moving forward, the Regional Officer, NHAI Odisha Shri Veerendra Singh, reported that NHAI in Odisha region targeted to plant more than 2 lakh saplings during current financial year 2023-24 both in the avenue as well as median and out of which so far planted 40,000 plants including today’s mega drive.With the success of this plantation drive and AKAM, NHAI Odisha takes a significant steptowards a more sustainable future, inspiring other communities to undertake similar initiatives. It serves as a shining example of how a unitedeffort can create a positive impact on the environment and pave the way for a greener, healthier and sustainable planet.