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Going by the latest report on deforestation in India, we have lost forest area

equivalent to more than half of New Delhi or as big as a tier two city between 2007
and 200 alone!
"he study conducted by a team of forestry researchers at the Indian Institute of
#cience $II#c%, &angalore for ' (urrent #cience' )ournal says that massive
deforestation has been mas*ed by +orest #urvey of India,s a-orestation data! "he
II#c study contradicts +#I,s forest.cover /gures and highlights a loss of ,010
hectares of forests in two years!
'"he ,010 hectares lost in two years is not small because this also includes
natural forests! &ut deforestation is mas*ed because of a-orestation and social
forestry programs! Deforestation of very dense to moderately dense forests is an
area of concern! "here is also no distinction between plantation and forests! 2ur
study demysti/es the myth that there is no deforestation in India,' said N 3
4avindranath, lead author of the study ,Deforestation and forest degradation in
India
"he report also indicates annual deforestation of 56,510 hectares in 2001.07 and as
much as over 7 la*h hectares in 2006.01!
Deforestation as per district wise /gures in the 2077 +#I report is highest in 8ndhra
9radesh, where 20,700 hectares were lost in two years and in several parts of
northeast! In :anipur 7,000 hectares were lost between 2007 and 200 and
7;,500 hectares in Nagaland was lost!
"2I had carried a report on <anuary 7, 2072, ,India,s forest cover falling= #tudy, that
quoted +#I report,s national deforestation estimate to be 657 sq *m or 65,700
hectares between 2007 and 200! &ut 4avindranath,s team analysed the district
level deforestation data by comparing forest cover /gures for every district
published in +#I reports! Deforestation /gures turned out to be way higher than
what +#I had quoted!
'"he total deforestation /gure given by +#I varies from the district.wise assessment
that we have done from +#I data! "he data is di-erent because the national
deforestation /gures given by +#I mas*s deforestation in districts,' 4avindranath
said
The State of Environment Report for Delhi, 2001 prepared by the Tata Energy Research
Institute TERI! for Department of Environment, "overnment of #ational $apital Territory of
Delhi indicates that the forest cover of Delhi has increased from 1% s&' (m' in 1)*+ to ** s&' (m'
in 1))) as per assessment of ,orest Survey of India'
-lthough encroachments in the ridge forests have resulted in biodiversity degradation, there is
an overall increasing trend in the status of vegetation and forest cover in Delhi' -fforestation
efforts of Delhi "overnment since 1)*1.*/ have yielded results in increasing forest0tree cover
and there is no reason to believe that by 2021 Delhi 1ould be a desert' The "overnment of Delhi
has prepared an -ction 2lan for large scale afforestation and greening of Delhi to further increase
the forest0tree cover 1hich serves as the city3s green lung'
This information 1as given by the 4nion 5inister of Environment and ,orests, Shri T'R'
6aalu in reply to a 7uestion from the 8on9ble 5ember, Dr' :i;ay <umar 5alhotra in the =o(
Sabha today'
A week after Trees for Delhi, a forum of citizens and environmentalists, took out a
silent protest march to express their concern over the disappearing green cover of Delhi,
Chief Minister heila Dikshit has invited them for a meeting !ednesda"# The forum,
which is onl" six$months$old, has %een raising alarm %" initiating several campaigns,
taking out peace protests, distri%uting fl"ers and staging pla"s, in a %id to sensitise
people a%out the huge amount of deforestation that has %een taking place in the capital#
The forum initiated a signature campaign a%out a month and a half %ack, which is still
going on, and su%mitted a petition to Dikshit with the signatures of a &,''' people# The
forums main concern is the rampant destruction of trees for various constructions
without an" re$plantation# (!e are not against construction of roads, highwa"s and
%uildings# )ut what we are asking is that does development alwa"s have to %e so anti$
greener"*+ asks ,anni ingh, executive director of Trees for Delhi#
= Green cover and water bodies almost equal to a quarter $26>% of Delhi,s area have
been lost to development wor*s and rapid urbani?ation in the National (apital
4egion in )ust the past 76 years!
"he /rst comparative satellite.based study of change in land use in N(4 has shown
that between 7 and 2072, the region lost 62,75 hectares of green areas and
7,;5; hectares of water bodies, both crucial for sustainability and quality of life in
the region!
During the same period, the study found that built.up area in N(4 grew by a
massive 6;>, bringing 1,006 hectares of land into the construction ?one!
"he study was conducted by the National 4emote #ensing (entre at the instance of
the N(4 9lanning &oard $N(49&%! It,s most stri*ing /nding was the substantial loss
of green cover across Delhi and regions of @ttar 9radesh, 3aryana and 4a)asthan!
2f the total loss of 62,75 hectares of green cover, the maAimum loss was recorded
in N(4 areas of @9 $77,605 hectares%, followed by 3aryana at 0,775 hectares!
,Green, Delhi too lost 766 hectares of forestBgreen land during this period, according
to the draft regional plan prepared by the N(49&!
"he other alarming indicator was unsustainable growth in N(4 was the loss of water
bodies! "hese reduced by 7,;5; hectares! 8gain, the maAimum loss too* place in @9
sub.region at 6; hectares! (ommendably, the 3aryana sub.region buc*ed the
trend by increasing the area under water bodies by 257 hectares!
"he N4#( report also shows that environmentally fragile areas such as the Camuna
riverbed, wetlands, ridge areas and forests were being steadily usurped for
development activities!
"he @9 and 3aryana sub.regions, which include Gurgaon, Noida, Gha?iabad and
+aridabad, showed a massive increase in built.up area during the study period!
8ccording to the report, the maAimum increase too* place in the @9 sub.region,
where built.up area )umped from 06,27; hectares in 7 to 7!2; la*h hectares in
2072! N(4 areas of 3aryana, which have the highest concentration of land under
built.up area at 61!;5>, were a close second! "he built.up area there grew from
6,5 hectares to 7!62 la*h hectares!
"he 4a)asthan sub.region was the only area under N(4 which actually registered an
increase in the area under agriculture use by 26,55 hectares! In contrast, 3aryana
saw the highest conversion of agriculture land $77,16 hectares% for non.agricultural
use!
"he report says that the increase in built up area mainly came from conversion of
agriculture land, green areas, water bodies and waste land! It says in the absence of
proper legislation to control land use in the agricultural $rural% ?one, the conversion
of these areas for use by industries and educational institutions has continued
unabated!
"he draft regional plan as*s states to follow stricter norms to protect and increase
green cover! "he plan proposes that eApressways be lined with 700.metre wide
green bu-er ?ones on each side! It recommends a 50.metre green belt for national
highways and 60 metres for state highways and railway lines!