Come July 31, and educational institutions, government departments and NGOs in Uttar Pradesh will vie to plant the most number of saplings ever, to set a world record in greening the environment.
Ten million saplings, each four feet tall, are to be planted in a single day across the state in a bid to set a new Guinness World Record, according to officials of the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department who are working overtime to meet the deadline.
The world record for the most number of trees planted in 24 hours is 245,464 and was achieved by a team of 300 residents of Nagapattinam District of Tamil Nadu on Oct 1-2, 2005.
Agra District Forest Officer S.P. Yadav said the vital difference this time was proper monitoring. "The saplings are to be photographed, videotaped and certified by independent observers." For this, 18,640 authenticators are being mobilised.
Officials said that about 600,000 Uttar Pradesh residents would participate in the tree planting drive. An ambitious target of 800,000 saplings has been set for the city of the Taj.
Pits are being dug wherever land is available. Vasudha Mehta of the Bear Rescue Centre here said she already has 1,500 pits ready. "I am now selecting the species which would be useful," she added.
Officials are busy getting ready for the big day though some NGOs are sceptical about the whole project.
"Creating a hype and an ambitious target is alright but you need a mechanism to ensure the saplings survive. It's like bringing up children. The plants too need a lot of care. Can the government functionaries sustain the tempo and provide the long term support?" asked Surendra Sharma, the president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.