Mumbai: Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Sunday said that urban forestry will be the new thrust area of the government and steps will be taken to create “urban jungles (forests)” across 200 cities and towns across the country.

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar. Reuters

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar. Reuters

“We will be taking up massive tree plantation drive in as many as 200 cities and towns across the country,” he said at a commemorative function organized at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali here.

The environment ministry will launch the “Urban Forestry Scheme” in Pune, where 6,000 saplings will be planted to create an urban jungle on about 80 acres of land, said an official release.

The minister also released a pamphlet “Living With Leopards” containing practical ways to reduce man-animal conflict in the vicinity of Sanjay Gandhi National Park Area.

Noting that in most cities there are gardens and parks but no forests, he said: “There are many cities where the forest department has its land but there are no forests on it or are degraded. In these places through people’s participation, we will establish urban forestry.”

He said the government has also initiated proactive measures for protection of wildlife and ‘shoot at sight’ orders given to armed guards at the Kaziranga National Park in Assam had resulted in the death of 24 poachers.

He appealed to the people not to buy any product made from wild animal body parts. “If there is no market for the products, poaching will end automatically,” he contended.

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Will create urban forests in 200 cities to increase green cover, says Javadekar