BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh is fast losing its dense forest and the loss has been alarming in the last two years. As per latest estimates of Forest Survey of India (FSI), the state among those having the largest forest covers, has recorded a considerable decrease in its forest cover including very dense forest (VDF) and moderately dense forest (MDF), said sources in ministry of environment and forest (MoEf).

Decrease in dense forest has been reported from Sidhi, Mandla, Satna, Umaria, Jabalpur, Jhabua, East Nimar, Dewas, Chhindwara, Chhatarpur and Balaghat districts. FSI, which surveys forest in every two years, refused to share inputs on their latest report (2013) stating it was pending with union ministry for approval. FSI's assistant director Sanjay Agrawal said, "Our survey is over. However, the data can not be shared unless the report is published."

As per FSI's last report (2011), there had been a decrease of 7km in the VDF, and 21km in MDF. Anil Garg, an independent researcher on forest land and expert on land records has accused state forest department of sending false data to the ministry to hush up the actual loss of forest cover in the last few years. He has made a written complaint to the office of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for an inquiry into the matter.

"MP shows 97 lakh hectares of reserved forest (RF), protected forest (PF), un-demarcated land and orange area as its forest cover, which is illegal. All these land are community land, as mentioned in the books of revenue department. This is a big fraud," said Garg. "There is no rule which allows inclusion of these lands as forest land. This would only strengthen Maoist activities in these states," he added. MP has the maximum area under forest cover among all the states in the country as per FSI last report. As per records of MoEF and FSI's last report 77,700km (11.24%) of the total 6, 90, 899km of forest land in the country is in MP.

Report indicates that Arunachal Pradesh with 67,410km under forest cover stood next to MP, while Chhattisgarh stood at third position with a forest cover of 55,870km. Of the total 77,700km of forest land in MP, 6,640km is covered by VDF, while 34,986km by MDF and 36,074km by open forest (OF). Of the total 50,650km of forest land in Maharashtra, a major chunk of 21,095km was covered by open forest, 20,815km under moderately dense forest and just 8,736km by very dense forest, the report added.



Source: Times of India (Dated 21 Mar 2014)