GUWAHATI, June 30 - Maligaon-headquartered Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has decided to increase its effort in the field of tree plantation and as part of the initiative the zone has set a target to plant at least 10 lakh trees during the current fiscal.
Senior NFR officials told this newspaper that a total of 6,94,378 trees were planted in the NFR zone during 2016-17 as compared to 5,22,504 during 2015-16.
�This is an increase of 32.89 per cent year-on-year. For 2017-18, the target has been fixed to plant 10 lakh trees. NFR has been conducting special drives for tree plantation every year and we are now looking to take the initiative to a bigger level,� said an official.
He said that the railway administration and the Assam forest department have already entered into an agreement for taking up plantation activities on railway land.
The agreement to this effect was signed earlier this year and it will be valid for a period of 10 years. All divisions of NFR which have jurisdiction in Assam will implement the project which will involve tree plantation along both sides of the railway track on land owned by the Indian Railways.
Sources said that following the agreement between the railway authorities and the State forest department, the principal chief conservators of forest of the governments of West Bengal and Bihar have also expressed interest in signing similar agreements made on the Assam model to take up joint afforestation and plantation activities.
NFR has jurisdiction over parts of West Bengal and Bihar, besides the entire North East.
�We are laying emphasis on both boundary plantations along the railway tracks as well as on block plantation this year,� said an official.
He added that as part of its commitment towards contributing to make the environment cleaner as well as due to the need to comply with various statutory obligations from time to time, the Railways has decided to incorporate specific provisions towards environmental costs in the estimates for works.
Meanwhile, NFR has also stepped up efforts to build up awareness among public and its own staff about cleanliness on trains, stations, railway colonies and offices.
�Special drives are being conducted in this regard, including by use of media. Street plays, posters and public address systems at stations are being used to make people aware about the issue of cleanliness. Various organisations like Rotary Club, Sant Nirankari Charitable Foundation, NGOs, Scouts and Guides are also associated with railways� effort to build up awareness,� said NFR Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) Pranav Jyoti Sharma. He said the efforts have shown some results.
�It is evident from the latest all India survey report on cleanliness in which Rangiya Railway Station has secured seventh position among �A� category stations, an improvement of 71 places in comparison to last year.
Similarly, Guwahati station has secured 18th position among �A-1� category stations which is an improvement of 55 places from last year,� Sharma said.
�A-1� category stations have passenger earnings of Rs 50 crore or above, while �A� category stations have passenger earnings of Rs 6 crore to Rs 50 crore.
Sharma added that other important stations in NFR like Lumding, New Coochbehar and Alipurduar Junction have also improved their positions in comparison to last year.