For the first year, the rural development department was assigned a target to plant 54 crore saplings (2,000 per gram panchayat). Another 35 crore was to be planted by the agriculture department and 8 crore by the forest department. Other departments were to share the remaining portion. But since a final government decision in this regard was taken only in October last year, the government could not set up the machinery required to plant 100 crore saplings. Nurseries, which would enable plantations of 30 crore saplings before August 15, are now being set up.
The government has set a deadline of May 15 for drawing pits, whereas August 15 is the deadline for plantation. To ensure a better survival rate, the government has ruled that the saplings planted must be at least 18 months old and must have a height of at least 35 cm. No exotic species are to be planted. With a majority of the tree plantation works proposed to be taken up under MGNREGS, the reduction in target would also impact estimates of performance under the central flagship programme.