10.76 million trees felled or marked for felling for infra projects since 2015
Around 10.76 million trees have been marked for felling in forests and other areas for developmental projects in the past five years, the Union environment ministry informed Rajya Sabha on September 14.
Around 1.263 million trees have been marked for felling in 2019-20 so far. In 2018-19, the number was highest in five years at 30.36 lakh. States bearing the highest burden of tree loss since 2015 include Telangana (1.6 million); Chhattisgarh (0.99 million); Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh (1.3 million each); Arunachal Pradesh (0.63 million). Delhi may have lost around 3,236 trees during this period.
“Trees are felled for various development purposes with the permission of competent authorities in accordance with the procedure laid down in various Acts and Rules. The Government’s policy is to ensure that more trees are planted than removed under different developmental proposals approved under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. Trees are removed only when it is absolutely necessary,” the Union environment ministry said in its reply and provided an annexure of trees marked for felling against various development projects under the Forest (Conservation) Act.
“The multi-departmental efforts have yielded good results in conserving the environment by addressing the problem of deforestation, which is evident from the fact that the forest cover has stabilised and has been constantly increasing over the years. The government’s efforts to plant more trees have also been reflected in the assessments in the biennial India State of Forest Report (ISFR),” the reply said, adding that the forest and tree cover as reported in the latest 2019 forest report has increased by 13,209 sq km as compared to that of the 2015 assessment.
The ministry has released ₹21.98 crore to states in 2019-20 under the national afforestation programme. Around ₹106 crore in 2019-20 and ₹119 crore in 2020-21 have been released under the Green India Mission.
India’s total forest cover is 21.67%, according to the India State of Forests Report.