Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said the government has been working to raise the country’s forest coverage to 25 percent as forestation is very essential to protect the environment.
“The country’s forest coverage was only 7 percent when we formed government in 1996. “So far, we’ve been able to raise the forest coverage to over 17 percent (of the country’s total land). Our goal is to raise it to 25 percent,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while inaugurating the plantation campaign of one crore saplings as part of the celebration of ‘Mujib Year’ marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
She opened the countrywide programme by planting three saplings --‘Tamarind,’ ‘Chhatian’ and ‘Chalta’ trees – on the premises of her official residence Ganobhaban in the morning.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has taken this programme aiming to raise forestation and create a ‘greenbelt’ across the country.
She said Bangabandhu inaugurated the tree plantation programme by planting saplings on his own after the independence of the country. “So, we’ve taken this step in his memory. We’re taking it (tree plantation programme) every year.”
The Prime Minister urged the people of the country to plant saplings anyhow in their lands, create rooftop gardens or plant saplings at pots on balconies. “If you plant trees, you’ll feel good and your mind will always remain fresh. Besides, it’ll bring your solvency … you’ll feel well if you eat a green chili of the tree planted by yourself,” she added.
"Let's come forward all together to plant trees, protect our country, which is a delta, and thus develop it,” she said adding that the plantation of trees is very much essential for ensuring food and nutrition of people alongside their economic prosperity.
Sheikh Hasina, also the President of Bangladesh Awami League, said her party has been planting trees since 1984, and the party starts its plantation campaign on the first day of Bengali month Ashar every year.
Following the inauguration, the tree plantation campaign formally started in every district and upazila with the plantation of one fruit bearing, one timber and one herbal sapling.
Some 20,325 saplings will be planted in each 492 upazila across the country by September 15, 2020 under the countrywide tree plantation programme.
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Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin and others concerned were present at the launching event of the one-crore tree plantation campaign.
Talking about her imprisonment days, the Prime Minister expressed her gratitude to the people of Bangladesh and thanked her party’s leaders and activists for protesting her jailing and lending their overwhelming support to release her from jail.
“They [Army-backed regime] were forced to release me in the face of protests by people and pressure from national and international levels,” she said.
Noting that the then caretaker government arrested her on July 16 in 2007 and filed false cases, Sheikh Hasina said, “I would like to express my gratitude to the people as I got released in 2008 due to their overwhelming support (lent to me).”
She said 12 false cases were lodged against her during the BNP’s regime and the caretaker government filed five more false cases, but she asked to complete investigations into all the cases to know whether she resorted to any corruption. After investigations, she was acquitted from all the charges, said the PM.
Sheikh Hasina, also the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu, said she learnt from Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to work for the welfare of the country and the nation, face any situation and overcome adversities remaining honest.
She said her government wants to make a hunger- and poverty-free Bangladesh by building the country based on the ideals of the Father of the Nation as he had brought independence for Bangladesh.
The Prime Minister said though the coronavirus pandemic halted all the progress of the country as for now, she expressed the hope that the people would get rid of it.