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Agro-forestry the way forward in Taj city, suggests expert

The Supreme Court on May 8, 2015 passed an order that trees in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) area should not be felled without the permission of the court.

lucknow Updated: Aug 20, 2018 13:46 IST
Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times, Agra
Agro-forestry,Taj city,Taj Trapezium Zone
An overview of the Yamuna bank from Agra Fort with the Taj Mahal in sight.(Raju Tomar/HT Photo)

The Supreme Court on May 8, 2015 passed an order that trees in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) area should not be felled without the permission of the court.

Nevertheless, the Taj city’s forest cover is inadequate and this has raised questions over the extensive plantations drives undertaken at initiative of the state government in 2015 and 2016.

Environmentalist KC Jain says, “The data available for Annual Average Ambient Air Quality (AAQ) reveals that while the gases, namely oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, are within the prescribed average annual standards, the particulate matter, namely PM-10 and PM-2.5, at all four monitoring stations are recorded much above the prescribed annual standards, necessitating the corrective steps to curb air pollution.” Jain recently filed an Interlocutory Application (IA) before the Supreme Court.

He has sought modification of the Supreme Court order in order to relax the condition of first obtaining permission of the apex court to fell trees on non-forest/private land in TTZ area.

“The need of the hour is to bring down PM-10 and 2.5 levels in Agra, for which we need extensive green cover in the TTZ area, which includes Agra. These canopies of trees work as a physical filter, trapping dust and absorbing pollutants,” Jain says.

“To judge various drives undertaken in the past, we have to analyse as to what impact the efforts to increase green cover have had. There are certain concerns. According to a survey by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) in 2001, Agra city had no ‘very dense forest area’, but 112 square km of moderately dense forest area and 145 square km of open forest area,” he says.

“When we analyse data about these forest areas after 16 years, we find there is no change in the number of very dense forest area. The area has fallen for ‘medium dense forest’ from 112 to 63 square km. The open forest area which has increased to 209 square km from 145, as per the FSI recent survey,” says Jain, a votary of agro-forestry for the enhanced green cover in Taj Trapezium Zone.

Quoting the FSI survey report of 2017, Jain says Agra’s forest cover is only 6.73% (272 sq km) of its geographical area (4,027 sq Km) as against the target of 33%.

Jain suggests the only practical and achievable way to increase the green cover in the TTZ area is to promote tree farming or agro-forestry on non-forest/private land coupled with the permission for felling trees grown for this purpose.

“It is notable that because of the legal hassles in felling trees, the consequence is that the farmers/land owners have virtually stopped planting saplings of trees. This has caused a serious setback to the greenery in TTZ,” Jain says.

“We have also sought the establishment of large-scale nurseries in all the districts of TTZ area for saplings of plants of native, endangered/threatened species of trees of the region and plants for agro-forestry,” KC Jain added.

First Published: Aug 20, 2018 13:46 IST