Gorakhpur, (JPN/ Bureau): Felling of trees in the forests of Poorvanchal has decreased forest area from 33 per cent to a meager nine per cent in recent years. The condition is such that in the middle of forest, large fields have suddenly come up.

In spite of Government investing huge sums of money in the conservation of forest, the number of trees felling is more than the number of trees planted. Illegal trading of wood by the forest mafia has become rampant.

Trees like Banyan, Pipal, Neem, Mango, Rosewood, Teak, Berries and Mahua are grown in these forests which hold major attraction for illegal traders.

Dainik Jagran team, while conducting a survey in Kusmi jungle found, trees are being cut with impunity. In fact, one wood cutter abandoned his saw as the Jagran team approached him and ran away. Not only there were huge barren fields in the middle of the forest but the space was being used by the near-by villagers for their daily chores.

Forest land can only be found in four ranges in Gorakhpur - Tinkonia, Baanqui, Farenda and Kaampierganj. In order to guard these areas, a person is deployed on vigil is finally supervised by forest officers, sub-inspector and a ranger. But clearing of forests continues unabated, which has become a major threat to the environment.

The difference between mandatory forest cover and actual cover has reached over 24 per cent. Environmentalists are of the view that at least 33 per cent of the total topography should be of forest land.

Meanwhile, a target of 600 hectares for plantation for the current year has already been achieved. DFO AP Tripathi said, “There is a huge gap between the current and desired situation which can only be achieved by planting more trees.”