Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Friday, March 1, 2024

Agrarian Haryana tops diversion of forest land










New Delhi: Haryana does not have much area under forest cover — most of its land (80%) is under cultivation — but it still diverts more forest land than any other state for non-forestry purposes, such as construction, infrastructure and industrial projects. 



Along with Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra, Haryana accounted for more than 50% of the total diversion of forest area (56,069 hectares or 560.69 sq km) for non-forestry projects in the entire country between 2014 and 2017, according to environment ministry figures. 



At the same time, however, afforestation of 93,400 hectares (934 sq km) of land was carried out in Haryana during the period, though the new plantations will take years before they can be said to have replaced the older diverted forest land. 




Only 3.6% of Haryana land is notified forests 



Latest figures, released by the environment ministry, showed that Haryana, which has only 1,584 sq km of forests, had diverted 79.44 sq km (7,944 hectares) despite the fact that the state had reported overall decline in its forest cover in 2015 as compared to 2013. 



Haryana is primarily an agricultural state with almost 80% of its land used for cultivation. The geographical area of the state is 44,212 sq km which is 1.3% of India's geographical area. 



Only 3.58% of the state's geographical area comes under notified forests. According to the India State of Forest Report 2015, forestry activities in Haryana were dispersed over the rugged Shivalik hills in the north, Aravalli hills in the south, sand dunes in the west and wastelands, saline-alkaline lands and waterlogged sites in the central part of the state. 



The figures showed that four of top five forest diverting states reported a decline in overall forest cover in 2015 as compared to 2013. Only Odisha showed a minor increase (of 7 sq km or 700 hectares) in its forest cover in 2015 as compared to 2013. 



There is a government policy for compensatory afforestation whenever forests are diverted for non-forestry purposes like mining, dams, industrial and infrastructural projects. However, a recent report of Community Forest Rights-Learning and Advocacy (CFR-LA) — a group of grassroots organisations, researchers and academicians — found several loopholes in ongoing compensatory afforestation programmes. 



It also shared documentary evidence with the Parliamentary Committee on Petitions, highlighting that majority of compensatory afforestation projects across 10 states (which the group studied) was done on forest land instead of non-forest land in clear violation of guidelines under the Forest Conservation (FC) Act, 1980. 



Compensatory afforestation under the FC Act must be undertaken on non-forest land in the same district where the forest was diverted for non-forestry purposes.








Source: The Times of India