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Haryana’s Unique Forest Initiative Where Aged Trees Get Pension and Heritage Tag

Haryana forest department’s unique Oxy Van initiative is drawing praises and popularity Oxy Van or Oxygen Forest is a path-breaking step that will put an end to shortage of green forests in future If any person or organisation cuts, axes or causes any damages to heritage trees in it, they are fined and can be jailed as well
Indian Masterminds Stories

If a human being can get pension after retirement from service, then why not a tree? That is Haryana forest department’s logic when it comes to protecting the aged trees that have been serving mankind by providing shade, oxygen, restoring water levels, and conserving the environment since decades.

In a path-breaking and first-of-its-kind initiative in the country, trees in Haryana now get pension. Also, as many as 4000 trees will get the ‘heritage’ tag.

Named ‘Pranvayu Devta Pension Scheme’ for trees, a pension of Rs. 2750 per year is given for the upkeep and maintenance of trees that are aged 75 years and above. This amount will be given to the owner of the tree to take care of it. The main motive behind this initiative is to create an environment, that inspires people to protect the old trees.

Indian Masterminds interacted with 1990 batch IFS officer and Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF) of Haryana, Mr. Vinod Kumar, to know more about this initiative.

IFS Vinod Kumar, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (APCCF) of Haryana (Pic Credit: Social Media)

PENSION SCHEME FOR TREES

This scheme was the brainchild of Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar. He pitched this idea of pension for aged trees. And in May this year, the Haryana government started implementing the ‘Pranvayu Devta Pension Scheme’. After this, a survey was started. Officially, the CM had announced this scheme on World Environment Day this year.

Initial findings suggest that there are around 4000 trees in 4 circles and 22 districts of the state that fall in the ‘eligible for pension’ category. And, more than 4000 trees eligible for the ‘heritage tree’ tag.

According to the ‘Heritage Tree Rules, 2021’, if any person or organisation cuts, axes or causes any damage to a ‘heritage tree’, they can be fined up to Rs. 500 or face jail term up to one month or both.
Among the trees that will get the heritage tag are Kadamb, Indrokh, Bargard, Pipal, Neem, Imli, etc.

Mr. Kumar said, “All ‘Pranvayu Devta trees’ may not be heritage trees, but all heritage trees will be qualified for Pranvayu Devta trees, because they will be above 75 years. So, the trees that are are in other than forest land, will get special attention and protection.”

He also added that the amount of pension money will be increased gradually. Most of these trees are in villages, temples, primary schools, near ponds, and the Aravali foothills.

This pension is the same as the old age pension scheme for people. It will be spent on special maintenance and care of the aged trees.

Pilkhan, 120 years Girth 1064 cms, Village Hamira farm, Pehowa Kurukshetra (Pic Credit: IFS Vinod Kumar)

IDENTIFICATION

Old trees are the base of our environment. The chopping down of an old tree means destroying the entire ecosystem along with it.

Officially, till now, 3850 trees that qualified for ‘Pranvayu Devta Pension Scheme’, have been identified. The West Circle of the state, that consists of 6 districts, has the maximum number of such trees at 1293. While the North Circle has 1074, South circle 1064 and Central Circle 461 such trees.

Among districts, Yamunanagar has the maximum number of Pranvayu Devta trees at 563, and Palwal has the lowest at 48. While Dadri district has 0 such trees.

The major criteria for ‘Pranvayu Devta’ and heritage trees are age, size and rarity. Any tree which is 75 years old and is connected to mythological or historical events, holds importance for people, religious traditions and beliefs, is qualified for the tag. The owner of the land where the tree stands will get pension every year for the maintenance of the heritage tree.

Mr. Kumar said, “The survey is about to end. I am still holding meetings of this survey and will get the final numbers soon. These numbers will be around 4K. This scheme will save the environment for our future generations.”

Pilkhan ( Ficus virens ), 90 years , Girth 900 cms, Village Thana district Kurukshetra (Pic Credit: IFS Vinod Kumar)

PRESERVATION & FUNDS

Approximately Rs. 1 crore will be spent for 4000 trees. The officer explained that considering the importance of the environment, this amount is not much. It is the thought behind it that matters. It is important to preserve the old trees in every aspect, as planting saplings doesn’t guarantee that these will grow into trees. Thus, by saving old tress, in essence, we are saving the environment.

“These trees have been providing shade and clean air to entire generations, helping in increasing the water level, and improving the environment. Hence, when they grow old, it is our responsibility to take care of them. Just like we give old age pension to humans, similarly, we are giving importance to the aged trees also,” Mr. Kumar said in conclusion.


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