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Plant at least one sapling, Himachal asks employees

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Shimla, July 20 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri on Sunday appealed to all government employees to plant at least one sapling to ensure re-greening of the hills.

This year, the forest department plans to plant over 1.5 crore saplings, including 45 lakh medicinal plants, by involving the people, Bharmouri told reporters here.

"We will distribute saplings free of cost. I urge all the employees to plant at least one sapling," he said.

The state has over 250,000 employees in various departments and 50,000 employees in boards and corporations.

The minister said the government would also involve over 5.50 lakh students from around 3,000 schools in the plantation drive to be launched by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh July 24.

"The government is aiming to re-green 17,500 hectares this year. In this plantation drive, 25 percent will be fruit-bearing trees and special emphasis will be given on planting medicinal plants," he said.

The minister said 71 nurseries, which were closed during the previous Bharatiya Janata Party regime, have been reopened and a special campaign would be launched to eliminate lantana and other weeds from 10,000 hectare this year.

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