MORE THAN two years after the then BJP government claimed that nearly 7.1 crore saplings had been planted in a single day in the Narmada basin, Forest Minister Umang Singhar has called it a Rs 450-crore scam. He has also written to the Economic Offences Wing to investigate then chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, then forest minister Gaurishankar Shejwar and some top forest officials.

While planting the saplings on July 2, 2017, at 1.21 lakh places by roping in officials from different government departments, Chouhan had claimed that the effort was set to enter the Guinness Book of World Records.

The BJP government had claimed that the Forest Department, Rural Development Department and Agriculture Department were among the departments involved in planting saplings.

While other departments are yet to order their respective probes, the Forest Minister said on Friday that he had recommended an EOW probe.

Singhar said that neither the single-day exercise make it to the record books, nor the correspondence made in connection with it was available.

“The sapling plantation programme was conceived only with an eye on record books… There was no due diligence. Plantation takes time and is not a day’s work,” Singhar said accusing his own department officials of misleading him to protect guilty officials. He alleged that saplings had been bought from neighbouring states at an exorbitant cost.