BENGALURU: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India’s report on national parks and wildlife sanctuaries has raised concerns on the depletion of green space in the protected reserves of the state.
The report has found massive disparity between the data provided by the Forest Department over actual data, in terms of encroachment of forest land, forest land lost during wildfires, road-kills inside reserves and sanctuaries, and the unregulated mushrooming of resorts inside the forests. The first of its kind report “Performance of National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in Karnataka”, for 2011-16 was submitted to the state government on Wednesday.
The report, presented to the media by B K Mukherjee, Accountant General, noted that the actual encroachment of forest land — based on a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Science, was six times that of the area claimed by Forest Department.
As per the report, while 31,677 acres of land was has been encroached, according to the Forest Department, it was only 5,001.9 acres. The difference between the two sets of data is 26,675 acres.
The audit report has observed similar differences in terms of extent of forest area lost due to wildfires, number of animals that become victim of road-kills and others. Shockingly, the disparity was observed even among the various datasets maintained by officials of Forest Department.
For instance, an assessment of forest fires in Bandipur and Nagarahole Tiger Reserves in 2012 revealed that fire ravaged forest area as per letters of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, was different from the data recorded in the division office. While PCCF’s letter said that the fire ravaged area in Bandipur and Nagarahole was 973 and 1,961 acres, respectively, the Division office maintained that it was 650 and 968.12 acres, respectively.
Mukherjee blamed inadequate staff to cover the wide swaths of forest, as reason for the disparity in the data.