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India celebrates Van Mahotsav - a week of 'planting hope'
Van Mahotsav, annual tree-planting festival, is being celebrated in India from July 1 to 7 by planting new tree saplings. The festival was started in the year 1950 by the Ministry for Agriculture. Every year, under the patronage of various state governments, millions of saplings are planted all across India during the week.

In India, Van Mahotsav was started as a crusade with the lofty purpose of saving mother earth. But, unfortunately the festival has become more ceremonial and ritualistic. No care is taken of the planted tree saplings after the festival is over.

In its original aim, every citizen of India is expected to plant a sapling in the Van Mahotsav week. Also, awareness campaigns amongst people about benefits of protection of trees and the harm caused by the cutting down of trees are supposed be held. It is meant to be more as the festival of life.

It needs to be understood that trees are an effective way to prevent global warming and reduce pollution. Van Mahotsava is celebrated as a festival of life.

It is advisable to plant native trees they readily adapt to local climate, integrate into eco-system and have a high survival rate. Besides, such trees are helpful in supporting local birds, insects and animals.

State governments and civic bodies supply free saplings to schools, colleges and academic institutions, NGOs and welfare associations for planting trees.

Stressing the need for tree plantation, Mahatma Gandhi had once said, “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”

“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people,” political leader Franklin D. Roosevelt had warned long ago.

The best saying about tree plantation is by Lucy Larcom, which goes as, "He who plants a tree plants hope."

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