6,944,608 trees cut across India in last three years: MoEF&CC

6.2 crore trees were planted in their place as compensatory afforestation

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Tuesday 26 November 2019
6,944,608 trees cut across India in last three years, says MoEF&CC. Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images Photo: Getty Images

Between 2016-17 and 2018-19, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), along with its 10 regional offices, gave permission to cut 6,944,608 trees across the country for various projects.

The data was provided as a response to a question asked in the Rajya Sabha on November 25, 2019.

“In the last three years, 6,944,608 trees were removed and 6.2 crore trees planted as compensatory afforestation,” Union Minister of State, MoEF&CC, Babul Supriyo told Parliament.

“In such cases, as part of the approval, appropriate compensatory afforestation schemes have been stipulated for taking up over 62,769.58 hectares of land (with plantation of 6.277 crore plants) in the last three years,” he added.

The compensatory afforestation that the minister was talking about is carried out under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

The Act stipulates that whenever forest land is diverted for non-forestry purpose like mining, compensatory afforestation has to be undertaken on twice the amount of forest land diverted, and preferably on revenue land.   

Many tribal rights activists have taken issue with compensatory afforestation as it is done on lands over which tribal communities have customary rights.   

“In all likelihood, the forest diversion has taken place without recognition of forest rights and Gram Sabha consent and likewise, 62,769.58 ha forest and/or revenue land without recognising and/or settling rights based on mostly fraudulent documents,” CR Bijoy from the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a national forum for forest dwellers which was active in getting the Forest Rights Act implemented in 2006, said.

“It is altogether another matter whether the compensatory afforestation is actually on the ground or paper, not that this in any way compensates the loss of forests to people and wildlife,” he added.

The ministry also said in the response that the bullet train project of the National High Speed Rail Corporation involved 131.302 ha of forest land in Maharashtra and 5.847 ha of forest land in Gujarat. A total of 53,467 mangrove trees will be removed as part of the project.

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