The planting took place in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which has a number of wilderness areas and wide-open spaces despite being the country’s most populous state. State officials distributed millions of saplings as part of India’s national pledge to ensure a third of its total land area remains under forest and tree cover.
Participants included lawmakers, government officials, volunteers from non-profit organisations and members of the public, all taking care to socially distance in one of the countries hardest hit by coronavirus.
“We are committed to increase the forest cover of Uttar Pradesh to over 15% of the total land area in next five years,” the state’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, told AP News during a press conference aimed at inaugurating the campaign in Lucknow, the state capital.
“In today’s campaign, over 20 million trees will be planted at the banks of the Ganges river, which will help in keeping this mighty river clean.”
A key part of any mass planting campaign is ensuring the long-term survival of the saplings planted. In order to increase the likelihood of trees surviving, Uttar Pradesh government spokesperson Awanish Awasthi said the entire plantation drive is being video taped and trees are being tagged so records can be kept.