An Indian State of Forest Report (ISFR)-2013 released recently by the Centre has revealed that forest cover in the state declined by 53 sq kms between 2011 and 2013. Development activities, mining and encroachment have been attributed as the reasons for it in the report.

"Both the Centre and state governments are not serious towards environment conservation and rampantly vanishing forests in Chhattisgarh in a quest of coal to feed their power plants. It is high time that the authorities wake up and make their stand clear to save the forest cover," social activist Ramesh Agrawal said.

Chhattisgarh had 55,674 sq kms of area under forest cover in 2011 against its total geographical area of 1,35,191 sq kms, which reduced to 55,621 sq kms last year, as per the ISFR report of Forest Survey of India.

The fall of 10 sq kms of Very Dense Forest (VDF) cover and 46 sq km of Moderately Dense Forest (MDF) cover was witnessed during this period, although, the open forest (OF) area recorded a growth of meagre 3 sq kms.

The maximum decline in forest cover of 19 sq kms was recorded in the insurgency-hit Bastar district followed by Durg (12 sq kms), Dantewada (10 sq kms), Kanker (9 sq kms), Kawardha (6 sq kms), Surguja and Bilaspur (5 sq kms), Korba (4 sq kms), Mahasamund, Raigarh and Rajnandgaon (2 sq kms), the report said.

The shrinking of 40 sq kms of forest cover alone was recorded in nine tribal-dominated districts of the state, spread in 92,656 sq kms of area.

The main reasons for the significant decrease in forest cover are "developmental activities, mining and encroachment of forest land, particularly in the districts affected with Left Wing Extremism," it said.

When contacted, Chhattisgarh's Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) AK Singh said that amid increasing pressure of population and mining activities which are necessary for the industries, it is a remarkable task to maintain the forest cover.

(JPN/Agencies)

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