HYDERABAD: The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation's (GHMC) Haritha Haram green drive programme appears to have become a cash cow for some corrupt employees.
The plantation drive, which was supposed to increase the city's green cover, seems to be not serving its actual purpose. Public funds used for planting saplings may not result in visible green cover. According to sources, much of the sapling plantation drive was only on paper, so large-scale bungling could not be ruled out. According to enquiries, the civic body has set a target of planting 32.55 lakh saplings throughout the city as part of its "Inch-by-Inch Campaign" to cover whatever open space is available in the urban area with saplings.
While the civic body claims to have planted 30 lakh saplings throughout the city, there appears to be no evidence of this. When questioned, officials claim that the 30 lakh saplings planted this year were completely destroyed by the monsoon's heavy downpour. In addition, during programmes such as Sunday Funday, the corporation claims to have distributed 20 lakh saplings to the general public.
When asked about the data pertaining to the survival rate, cost incurred for raising the plants, and number of locations they were planted across the city, officials refused to provide the data, claiming that, unlike previous years, the current year's Haritha Haram programme did not produce good results due to continuous downpour during monsoon.
According to sources, the civic body raised seedlings from 90 nurseries located throughout the city. Previously, the civic body set a goal of planting 25 lakh plants in each zone and raising 1.5 crore plants by 2021. The civic body has planted 2.76 crore saplings until 2020, achieving 86% of the target of 3.2 crore saplings planted since the start of the Haritha Haram programme.
According to reliable sources, the corporation spends Rs 769 per sapling to ensure that the plant is nurtured for three years. Approximately Rs 350 is paid in the raising year, while Rs 200 is paid in the first and second years. Watering is usually done once a week, but in the summer, 40 waterings are required to ensure the plant's survival. According to sources, corporation officials have been allegedly swindling at least Rs 150 crore per year in the name of a mega plantation drive. In contrast to the other wings of the GHMC, Urban Biodiversity is the only one that has regularly invited tenders for plant maintenance....