DIGBOI, July 8 � Rockybul Hussain, Minister of Forests and Panchayat & Rural Development, inaugurated the Digboi Arboretum today in the presence of senior citizens, social activists and people from all walks of life at a public function at the arboretum site. Aswini Verma, Commissioner-Secretary of Panchayat & Rural Development department, Government of Assam, S Meenaxi Sundaram, Deputy Commissioner of Tinsukia district, Bhaskar Phukan, SDO (Civil) of Margherita, Balin Chetia, MLA of Sadia, Sanjay P Bordoloi, General Manager in-charge of IOCL (AOD), HN Sarma, retired principal of Margherita College and Col Saini among others were present on the occasion. The programme was attended by Forest department officials of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts.
P Siva Kumar, Divisional Forest Officer, welcomed the chief guest and the gathering representing various socio-cultural organisations and institutions including the Lions Club of Digboi and the Rotary Club, Digboi. Siva Kumar informed the gathering that the arboretum in its first phase covered a total plantation area of 33 hectares (266 bighas approximately) divided into 120 equal plots and in them an equal number of tree species � one species in one plot � had been planted. He said that another 83 species of trees and plants would be planted in the second phase. The plantations began on the World Environment Day last year and the project was funded by the Tinsukia district authority under the DRDA Scheme. He also said that the Digboi Arboretum would be a compulsory stop for botanical scientists, researchers, students, nature lovers, tourists and the public and be a repository of rare and diminishing plant species.
In his address, Hussain appealed to the public and the media to focus on the positive things like the arboretum which would become a showpiece of the whole State. He said that his Govt was targeting the younger generation in the afforestation programme with a view to developing a sense of their bonding with nature. He highlighted the Forest department�s drive to bring more areas of the State under forest cover although Assam already has 37.33 per cent of its total landmass under green cover.