The Union government has merged the National Mission for a Green India, which aims afforestation at 10 million hectares of land over the next decade, with MGNREGA to increase and improve the country's forest cover. Modern technology like remote sensing will be used to monitor the progress of this initiative regularly.
Its targets are: Increase forest/tree cover on 5 million hectares of forest/non-forest lands and improve quality of forest cover on another 5 million hectares; improve ecosystem services including biodiversity, hydrological services and carbon sequestration through treatment of an area of 10 million hectares; Increase forest-based livelihood income of about 3 million households living in and around the forests; and enhance annual CO2 sequestration by 50 to 60 million tonnes in 2020 The total mission cost was estimated to be Rs 46,000 crore. Funding of Rs 13,000 crore has been approved for implementation of various activities under the mission.
The Green India mission was launched to use a combination of adaptation and mitigation measures in enhancing carbon sinks in sustainably managed forests and other ecosystems, adaptation of vulnerable species/ecosystems, and adaptation of forest-dependent communities.
Currently, green works such as water harvesting, afforestation and farm forestry are undertaken under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme implemented by Rural Development Ministry. The government is also eyeing at increasing 10 million hectares of forest cover under the 'National Mission for a Green India' being implemented by the Environment Ministry.
Under MGNREGA, forest works such as pre-plantation, pit digging, planting and watering, fencing, plant support and protection activities, weeding, mulching and manuring the plants among others can be undertaken for afforestation. State Forest Development Agencies (SFDA) will provide technical advice on plant species suitable for area, raise nurseries and deliver required plant material to each gram panchayat before July each year meeting the cost from MGNREGA funds.