New Delhi: The forest cover of the country has decreased marginally by 728 square kilometers between 2003 and 2005, the Rajya Sabha was informed on 24 April.
Minister of State for Environment and Forests S Regupathy said forest cover in 2001 was 653,898 sq km which increased to 677,816 sq km. However, it came down to 677,088 sq km in 2005, he said.
“The forest cover of the country has more or less stablised,” he said replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour. The Forest Survey of India (FSI) carries out forest cover assessment of the country using remote sensing technology once every two years.
He said the reasons for fall in forest cover was tsunami’s effect on vegetation in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, construction of dam in Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh and shifting cultivation of bamboo in the North-East especially Nagaland and Manipur.
The members including main questioneer Kamal Akhtar (SP) were not happy with the minister’s reply and sought the chairman’s protection.
Chairman Hamid Ansari ruled that if the answer is perceived to be factually wrong, then there are procedures for raising the matter. “I have yet to witness a member coming up and saying the answer if actually wrong.”
Members, however, kept saying that the minister was evading a direct reply. “Please don’t try to jump over the procedure. Either say in writing that answer is misleading or false (or) I am not willing to listen to verbal interventions,” Ansari said.