To clear the backlog for compensatory afforestation over the next two years, the Uttarakhand Forest Department is mulling a plantation drive in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region and parts of Rajasthan.
Compensatory afforestation is done against the transfer of forest land for non-forestry purposes like the development of dams, mining and the construction of industries or roads. In compensatory plantation, 1,100 plants are planted over an area of one hectare.
As per a report presented in at a recent meeting of the Uttarakhand Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) steering committee, the state government has carried out afforestation on 24,908 hectare land, against the total target of 33,944 hectare, which translates into a backlog of 9,035 hectare.
Move could cause fresh legal challenge
After an afforestation drive, local authorities take care of the plants for 10 years — till the plant gets strength to survive further. So far, Uttarakhand has been undertaking compensatory afforestation within the state, for which it is comparatively easy to utilise funds. However, if it were to undertake a plantation drive in another state, the observation of the plants’ growth will depend on coordination with local authorities, which will be a fresh challenge for Uttarakhand.
Against this backlog, the state CAMPA has set a target of afforestation on 3,500 hectare in the current financial year. However, Uttarakhand faces a shortage of suitable land for the remaining 5,535 hectare.
To this effect, the Uttarakhand CAMPA steering committee discussed a proposal for a plantation drive in other states. However, before this proposal can be executed, the Uttarakhand government will require a report from district authorities about availability or unavailability of the land within the state.
“District authorities have been asked to create land bank for compensatory afforestation. If found necessary, possibilities will be explored for afforestation in other states, preferably Uttar Pradesh, where it can be done in the Lalitpur and Banda area (in UP’s Bundelkhand) and also areas in Rajasthan,” said Uttarakhand CAMPA CEO J S Suhag. Suhag said that before Uttarakhand split away from UP, compensatory afforestation had been done in Lalitpur, Hardoi and Unnao districts against the diversion of forest land for the Tehri dam.
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