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Uttarakhand lost 50,000 hectares of forest cover in 20 years | India News


DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand, the birthplace of the major rivers of India as Bargain and Yamuna, home to the Himalayan ranges, is rapidly losing its forest land to commercial activities. Data from the forestry department to which TOI has exclusive access has revealed that the state, which has more than 70% of forest land, has lost about 50,000 hectares (ha) of its forests due to various development activities in the last 20 years. .
The six main activities for which about 21,207 hectares of forest land have been diverted in the state are mining, hydroelectric plants, road construction, power distribution lines, water pipes and irrigation. The largest amount of forest cover has been lost due to mining (8,760 ha) followed by the construction of roads (7,539 ha), power distribution lines (2,332 ha) and hydroelectric power plant projects (2,295 ha). Other smaller activities together claimed 20,998 hectares of forest cover, the data reveals. The other activities include laying of optical fibers, railways, defense works, rehabilitation, construction of buildings, etc.
An analysis by district (from November 2000 to March 2020) shows that Dehradun (21,303 ha) lost the maximum forest area, followed by Haridwar which lost 6,826 hectares, Chamoli (3,636 ha), Tehri (2,671 ha) and Pithoragarh (2,451 ha). This diversion of forest land for commercial activities is alarming when viewed in the context of the latest report from the Forest Survey of India (State Forest Report of India 2019) which indicates that three districts: Nainital, Udham Singh Nagar and Haridwar, have experienced negative growth in their forest cover, of -6.4%, -4.2% and -2.7% respectively, from 2017 to 2019.
Anil Joshi, Doon environmentalist and recipient of Padma Bhushan, told TOI: “How can we ask for a ‘green bond’ from the Center when we are not sensitive to our green cover?” Uttarakhand’s forest cover spans around 38,000 square kilometers, which is 71% of the geographic area of ​​the state. It has 112 species of trees, 73 species of shrubs and 94 species of grasses, all of which, scientists say, face “the heat of development activities.”
“We strictly adhere to the Center’s standards that mining should be done only after proper environmental clearances and sustainably and only to a certain depth,” said Vinod Kumar, Managing Director of Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation.

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