SM Raju has found a way to plant nearly one billion saplings in only one day: by hiring people who are below the poverty line in India to plant and then to protect trees. The plan is to pay people who would otherwise be unemployed to plant and grow trees as a family. Each year they would get some money to supplement other income sources.
“The scheme has brought benefits to thousands of families since its implementation,” said a recent International Labour Organisation report.
But Mr Raju says that Bihar – being the poorest and most lawless state of India – has not been able to spend the allocated NREGA funds.
“This is because of a lack of awareness among officials about the scheme,” he said.
The poor monsoon this year has led to lower agricultural outputs, while flash floods in some northern districts has made the situation even worse, he said.
“So the idea struck to my mind, why not involve families below the poverty line in social forestry and give them employment under this scheme for 100 days?
“Under the scheme, each family can earn a minimum of 10,200 rupees ($210).”