Maha govt appeals to Bollywood to pitch in, make its 13 crore tree plantation drive a success

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The Maharashtra government has sought help from Bollywood to make its ambitious programme of planting 13 crore trees across the state in July a success.

State forest minister Sudhir Mungantiwar has requested Bollywood personalities, film distributors and multiplex owners to help the government with the drive through documentaries and public appeals asking citizens to participate. The minister made the request at a meeting on Saturday.

In 2016, the state government announced a massive drive to increase Maharashtra’s green cover, by planting 50 crore saplings by 2019. The drive was launched on July 1, 2016, with 2 crore saplings being planted in a day. Last year, 4.6 crore saplings were planted as part of the initiative.

To achieve the original target, Mungantiwar has increased this year’s target to 13 crore saplings, and on Saturday, sought Bollywood’s help to reach out to the masses, at a meeting attended by celebrities, producers, film distributors and multiplex owners.

“Bollywood celebrities have a huge fan following across the country. There are crores of people who like to follow them. If they agree to come out with a message for this green mission and urge people to participate in the tree plantation drive, the target to increase the state’s green cover can be achieved,” Mungantiwar said at the meeting.

Celebrities could participate in the drive in person, appeal to people to participate through documentaries and ads, while multiplex owners could help by showing these documentaries and ads in theatres, he added.

Former Mumbai sheriff Kiran Shantaram, who was present at the meeting, appealed to everyone from the film industry to plant five saplings each.

The film fraternity attending the meet throught it was a good idea. Producer-director Subhash Ghai said he is willing to make such documentaries at his film institute Whistling Woods International, and that arrangements will be made to screen them in theatres, too. Producer Mukesh Bhatt also backed the initiative.

Prakash Chaphalkar, secretary of Multiplex Association of India, said they would make arrangements to show messages related to the environment and forest protection in multiplexes as well as single-screen threatres across the state.

Of the 307 lakh hectares that comprise the state of Maharashtra, 61.35 lakh hectares, or 20%, is forests. The forest department wants to increase this green cover to 33%.

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