DEHRADUN: Tree felling across the country has almost doubled between years 2016-2019, revealed reply of a question in Lok Sabha earlier this week.
Total 76,72,337 trees were cut down between duration of financial year 2016-17 to 2018-19 with 17,31,957 trees in the financial year 2016-17 citing 'absolute necessity' which increased to 30,36,642 in year 2018-2019.
The reply by Babul Supriyo, Union Minister for State, Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change said, "The trees are removed only when it is absolutely necessary. As a general policy, more trees are planted than the number of trees approved for removal under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980."
The reply in response to the question of BB Patil, Lok Sabha MP of Telangana Rashtra Samithi stated that in last three years 76,72,337 number of trees were removed and plantation of more than 7,87,00,000 trees have been stipulated under compensatory afforestation.
In Uttarakhand, total of 1,05,461 trees were cut down in the same duration with maximum 69623 in the financial year 2017-18.
Telangana registered maximum numbers of tree felling with numbers going up to 12,12,753 while not a single tree was cut down in Nagaland, Pondicherry, Chandigarh, Lakshwadeep, Jammu & Kashmir, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.
After Telangana state, maximum number of trees were cut down in Maharashtra with 10,73,484 followed by Madhya Pradesh (9,54,767), Chhattisgarh (6,65,132), Orissa (6,58,465), Andhra Pradesh (4,95,269), Jharkhand (4,34,584), Arunachal Pradesh (3,25,260), Punjab (2,28,951), Rajasthan (2,28,580), Uttar Pradesh (2,055,51), West Bengal (1,76,685), Haryana (1,72,194), Gujarat (1,65,439), Himachal Pradesh (1,61,677), Manipur (1,23,888), Assam (1,18,895), Bihar (91,850), Karnataka (40,776), Andaman and Nicobar (12,467), Sikkim (8,630), Goa (3765), Delhi (3236), Tamilnadu (2025), Mizoram (748), Kerala (725), Tripura (583) and Meghalaya (317).
The Union Minister responded, "Such permissions are accorded subject to the recommendation of the concerned State/UT Government and for unavoidable developmental projects/purposes. While according such permissions, it is ensured that minimum number of trees are removed which are inevitable."
The reply by the minister also added that union government’s efforts to plant more trees than removed has also been reflected in the assessments in biennial India State of Forest Reports (ISFR) by Forest Survey of
Notably, the forest and tree cover as reported in ISFR-2019 has increased by 13,209 sq km as compared to that of ISFR 2015 assessment.