Ernakulam: On the occasion of World Environment Day on Monday, the Kerala government is planting new trees to “re-green" the state. The state started a campaign to plant 1 crore saplings as part of its ‘Haritha Keralam (Green Kerala)’ mission on Monday.

About every 47 lakh school students will plant saplings on Monday. Government bodies, colleges and social organisations, among others, will also plant saplings.

The efforts come at a time when studies point towards massive forest erosion in the state. Since 1973 (from when remote sensing data is available), Kerala has lost 906,440 hectares of forest land, almost 50% of its present forest area, according to an IISc study, Mint reported on 23 May.

Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, movie actors and cultural icons, have all been trying to popularize the campaign through radio, television and print advertisements.

“The world is moving towards an environmental emergency due to climate change. It was just the other day that the United States of America withdrew unilaterally from the Paris agreement," Vijayan said in a Facebook post on Sunday night.

“This year the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala is observing World Environment Day by planting one crore saplings around the state as part of the Haritha Keralam Mission. Our students will be taking the lead in planting and nurturing these saplings. As a society we should join hands with them. Alongside, Haritha Keralam Mission will focus on the protection of our water resources, waste management and reinvigoration of agriculture as well, which is equally important," he said in the FB post.

Kerala governor P. Sathasivam, who inaugurated the state-wide campaign on Monday, also appealed to the public to plant more trees and turn to renewable energy sources, in a statement.

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