New Delhi: Nearly 1.9 million hectares of India’s forest land has been encroached upon and Madhya Pradesh alone accounts for around 30% of such encroached forest area, said Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday, while replying to a query in Parliament.
As per the records of the ministry of environment and forests, a total of 1,899,358 hectares of forest land is under encroachment in 36 states and Union Territories.
This comes even as India is striving to achieve the target of having 33% land under forest cover. According to India State of Forest Report 2015 released in December 2015, India’s total green cover has reached 24.16% of the land mass.
Of the 1,899,358 hectares of encroached forest area, the highest, nearly 29% is in Madhya Pradesh with around 552,570 hectares under unauthorised and illegal occupation.
In May 2015, the figure stood at 370,000 hectares of encroached land but was updated in September 2015.
Madhya Pradesh is followed by Assam with 317,215 hectares, Telangana with 183,465 hectares, Maharashtra with 183,171 hectares and Chhattisgarh with 118,494 hectares.
The data was revealed by India’s environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday in parliament while replying to a query.
On clearing the encroachment, the environment minister said, “Protection and management of forests is primarily the responsibility of the concerned state government and therefore the action to remove encroachment is taken as per the provisions of various acts such as Indian Forest Act, 1927; Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and other acts, rules and regulations framed by the states."
The environment ministry supplements the efforts of the states in protection and management of forests through centrally-sponsored ‘Intensification of Forest Management Scheme’, he added.
Under this scheme, various measures like setting up of check posts, barriers, use of modern technology, improved mobility to the field staff by providing vehicles for patrolling, survey and demarcation of forest areas and construction of boundary pillars are supported by the Union environment ministry.