Afforestation at Sikharchandi Hill draws huge crowd; over 3400 saplings planted

Bhubaneswar: Despite it being a Sunday, the mass community afforestation programme at Sikharchandi Hill under ‘Sabuja Pahada’ (Greening Hillocks), a unique community plantation drive, jointly organized by Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Odisha Forest Development Corporation (OFDC) has received an overwhelming response today as residents of Bhubaneswar and nearby sub urban area responded call and stood up for a noble cause – improving the green cover and saving environment – for themselves and for their future generations.

Over 5000 people from different sections of the society thronged the famous Sikharchandi foothills early morning and planted and adopted more than 3400 saplings of different species on area spreads across 5 acres. Nearly 2000 school and college students, hundreds of senior citizens and members of Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), IT company representatives, differently-abled persons, members of Self-help Groups (SHGs), market associations, religious associations, transgender community, NGOs, representatives of political parties among others joined the initiative with great interest.

Notably, the BDA has undertaken the redevelopment of Sikharchandi hill area project to transform it to a major tourist attraction soon after the approval of Mater Plan of it by Hon’ble CM Shri Naveen Patnaik in January.The project will spread over a patch of land measuring nearly 54 acres, including the main temple and its surrounding areas and it has been divided into four zones.

As per the plan, the Zone-1 will have a parking facility, an amusement park for visitors and a developed space for other activities, including basic amenities. Similarly, Zone-2 will have a View Point and a Trekking Route. Zone-3 & 4 will be developed for entertainment-based activities along with a big community centre.

Expressing his sincere thanks to all participants, Balwant Singh, Vice-Chairman, BDA said: “The main purpose of this drive is to give a further boost to the green cover in and around this place by involving every section of the society. We always encourage people’s participation and their constructive suggestions whatever we do to ensure sustainable and regulated development of Bhubaneswar and its iconic places.”

Explaining in detail about the ongoing redevelopment and beautification works being carried out by BDA, Singh said very soon people will experience its complete transformation with available of all basic amenities in a proper and disciplined manner. A slew of facilities such as public parking, community centre, children play areas, recreational centre, trekking route, eviction of encroachments, view point, battery-operated vehicles for differently-abled persons , Prasad Shops , electric buses to the hilltop for tourists, dedicated and separate zones for picnickers among others are being constructed for benefits of one and all with an estimated cost of Rs 30 crore.

The BDA has been taking all possible measures in a collaborative manner with BMC, Commissionerate Police, Civil Society organizations and local stakeholders to preserve its identity as a religious and spiritual place nestled with ample greenery, peace and serenity.

Today, about 3400 saplings from 27 different species were planted and adopted by the community. These are Neem, Sissco, Karanja, Bara, Pippal, Bakula, Arjuna, Mehogany, Rohini, Pesta Badam,, Red Sandal, Yellow Trumpt and Pink Trumpt are under Forest Species category. Similarly, Flower species include Patuli, Kanchan, Akashmali, Sunari, Champa, Tabovia Rosia, Spathodia Camanculata, Ashoka and Terminalia Arjentia. Fruit Species comprise Jackfruit, Custad Apple, Bel, Jamun, Tentuli, Mango, Guava and Krushnachuda.

Elated after seeing voluntary participation by large number of people, Shri Suresh Pant, IFS. Managing Director, OFDC, said: “People’s spontaneous participation in such plantation programme is key to get success and increasing the green cover in and around our surroundings. We should and must do something every day protect our environment for us and for our future generations.”

As many as 18000 trees of various species will be planted at Sikharchandi Hill and its foothills. This target will be achieved by end of this month. The BDA has earmarked a budget of around Rs 3.51 crores. OFDC has taken up the responsibility of maintenance of these trees for five years from the date of plantation.

“We are committed to honour and maintain the natural and religious importance of Sikharchandi Hill by increasing the overall greenery with plantation of different species of trees in the days to come,” said Dr. Sanjeet Kumar, RCCF Bhubaneswar Circle who is also in Additional Charge of GM, OFDC.

The BDA and OFDC urged everyone to participate in this noble programme to make it an inclusive exercise.

Lituna Patihari, a differently-abled person, native of Badamba, Cuttack who was quite happy participating in the drive said: For me, a tree signifies and embodies a feeling of unconditional love, emotion and compassion. Hence, it’s our collective responsibility to protect and enhance the greenery to save the environment.”

Among other dignitaries who participated in the afforestation drive include Susant Kumar Rout, MLA, Bhubaneswar ( North), Sulochana Das, Mayor, BMC, Vijay Amruta Kulange, Commissioner, BMC, Suryawanshi Mayur Vikas, Additional Commissioner, BMC, Soumendra Kumar Priyadarshi, Police Commissioner, Prateek Singh, DCP (Bhubaneswar), Kabindra Kumar Sahoo, Secretary, BDA, Harish Chandra Nayak, Additional Commissioner (Enforcement), BDA, Biswaranjan Rath, Senior Administrative Officer, Purandar Nanda, ZDC (North), BMC, Dhananjay Mohanty, IDCO, BDA, L.P. Mohapatra, Superintending Engineer, BDA.