Y.S. RANA, CHANDIGARH— Hard work supplemented by sustained campaign and much needed technical inputs by the Chandigarh Administration do not seem to have contributed to the overall growth that has shown signs of decline in forest cover. Year 2014 is not ended with a happy note for city as it has recorded decline of 50 per cent in its forest cover during the past five year.
Chandigarh is losing greenery by the day and the density of its green cover too is getting tense. With 35.7 per cent forest cover in 2007, the city has now 15.14 per cent forest cover of total geographical area. As per current assessment of State Forest Report-2013 released recently, total forest cover of the city is 17.26 sq km compared to 17 sq. km in 2011.
In terms of density classes are under very dense forest is 1.36 sq. km; that with moderate dense forest is 9.66 sq km and open forest are is 6.24 sq km. consisting very dense forest of 1.36 sq. km; 9.66 sq. km of moderate dence forest and 6.24 sq km of open forest area. As per current assessment total forest area of Chandigarh is 17.26 sq. km which works out as 15.14 per cent of the total geographical area.
The decline density is borne out by the fact that green pockets of the forest cover have since turned yellow. The city has recorded decline of 0.34 sq. km in moderate dense forest area while it has increased very dense forest area by 0.36 sq. km and open forest area by 0.24 sq. km compared to 2011. Hence, city has only recorded 0.26 sq. km increase in its cover area when compared to 2011.
It is distressing to note when compared with the national figure. The report puts the total green cover area in the country at 21.23 per cent and non-forest area as 77.51 per cent. Apparently, the results of the Chandigarh Greening Action Plan, launched by the Chandigarh Administration, do not seem to pay dividends.
The National Forest Policy of India lays down that 33 per cent of the total land mass should be brought under forest cover to maintain ecological balance and envrionmental cleanliness. “Chandigarh has been exceeding the target despite the fact that it is mainly an urban area where developmental activities are in abundance. The city has not only recorded its year-on-year growth of forest cover till recent past but now recorded decline in density of forests,” said an official of the Chandigarh Administration.
Area wise Madhya Pradesh has the largest forest cover (77,522 sq. km) followed by Arunachal Pradesh (67,321 sq. km) in the country. In respect to total geographical area Mizoram with 90.38 per cent has the highest forest cover followed by Lakshdeep with 84.56 per cent)
The report has also estimated fire prone area under heavy (1.33 per cent); moderate (6.48 per cent) and mild fire prone area as 46.10 per cent respectively making total forest fire prone area of 53.91 per cent in the country.