GUWAHATI: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced at Kaziranga on Saturday that the state government plans to increase Assam's forest cover from 36% to 38% large-scale plantations in the next five years.
CM Sarma made the announcement while speaking at a national seminar on the topics- 'Environment and Sustainable Development – Role of Judiciary', and 'Digitization of Indian Judiciary – Its Impact in Dispensation of Justice', organised at Kaziranga by Gauhati High Court in collaboration with the Assam government. Judges of the Supreme Court and chief justices of several high courts are attending the seminar inaugurated by Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju.
The Chief Minister spoke about the state government's move to strengthen and increase the protected forest area network in the state by upgrading reserve forests to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. "This has been done for better protection and conservation of wild animals in Assam," he added.
Emphasising that the environment provides us with pretty much all the resources required for our survival, CM Sarma said, "But all natural endowments are not limitless. Overexploitation of resources and transformation of the natural environment in course of economic development has compelled the society to revisit its actions and look for urgent corrective measures to restore the wounded environment."
He also highlighted various measures for environmental protection contained in the Constitution. CM Sarma forwarded the view that 'sensible planning, balanced development and deployment of green technology' would provide us with workable solutions, which in turn would enable us to save the environment.
According to a senior Forest department of Assam official, "The last recorded forest area of Assam is 26,832 sq km accounting for 34.21% of its geographical area. According to their legal status, Reserved Forests constitute 66.58% and Unclassed Forests 33.42% of the total forest area. Most of the encroachments happen only in Unclassed Forests. The reserved forests in Assam are highly-protected because of its rich, unique flora and fauna."
The Global Forest Watch Report of 2022 found the alarming fact that Assam has lost around 287 thousand hectares of tree cover area in the last two decades (2001 to 2021), which is close to twice the size of Delhi, according to reports in natio nal media.
"North Eastern states have lost 1,020 square kilometers of forests during 2019-2021, as per the India State of Forests Report (ISFR) 2021, released by the Ministry of Environment. That area itself is almost the size of Delhi," said an internationally recognised environmental conservationist on the condition of anonymity.
According to a recent study conducted by the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, by 2028, forests in areas of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh will be depleted by 9,007.14 sq km (2.94%).