PART- VI: JK Forest Deptt knows that 15998.64 hectares of its land has been encroached yet helpless!

GREEN GOLD IN DANGER: PART-VI


1351 sq kms of dense forest degraded in between 2001-2003

*As per the law, only dry trees can be cut and we have banned the export of high quality timber outside the State. But the demand of the timber even within the State is increasing every day, making people break the laws.

*Every year, fire in the Government timber depots has become common resulting in huge losses to the State exchequer.

Ajmer Alam Wani

JAMMU, AUG 29: The Jammu and Kashmir State which is known world wide for its natural beauty has already lost more than 13 per cent of its forest area since partition of the country in 1947. The total forest area of Jammu and Kashmir State, is 20230 sq km of which the Kashmir region has 8128 sq kms, Jammu region 12066 sq kms and the Ladakh region has 36 sq kms. According to Forest Report 2003 issued by Forest Survey of India, forest cover was 24214 sq kms which is less than the 2001 assessment. The Forest Department in its report has admitted that 1351 sq kms of dense forest has been degraded either to open forest, scrubs, or non-forest. On the other hand during the year 2007-2008 the total forest land encroached was 15998.64 hectares which is alarming and increasing by years. The people living near forests have continuous tendency of encroaching upon forest lands the total area of encroachment registered ending 3/2008 in Jammu region was 6903.64 hectares and in Kashmir region 9094.78 hacters which amounts to a total of 15998.64 hectors. Studies have revealed that the low productivity of agriculture fields and booming population are the main reasons of encroachments, including diversion of forest land for development activities like roads, hydro electric projects, etc. This is a serious problem with which forest department is confronted with. If sources are to be believed than on an average, Jammu And Kashmir State has lost 74.37 sq.kms of its forest area every year since country divided in 1947. Jammu and Kashmir is a state where 48 per cent of the rural population is directly or indirectly dependent on forests, so the economic consequences could not be long delayed. The forest wealth of the State includes trees like Deodhar, Blue Pine and Silver Fir. A normal Deodhar tree is 120 feet tall and is worth over Rs.1, 00,000 in the market has borne the main brunt of exploitation. Sources revealed that more than 40, 00,000 Deodhar trees have been extracted from the dense forests, directly affecting the livelihood of poor households. Even in pre-1947 era, the abundant forest wealth was one of the main sources of revenue for the State. The state not only met its own needs but was also the main source of raw material of wood for northwestern India before Partition. It was also responsible for the spiraling growth of the industries mainly the sports and furniture established in 1920s. The Chenab flowing through the area was a vital means of transportation of timber from forests. But after 1947, high altitude areas of the segment, once a green zone, fell victim to ruthless deforestation and poor planning. Partition did not decrease the demand for timber; it continued to increase. As per the law, only dry trees can be cut and we have banned the export of high quality timber outside the State. But the demand of the timber even within the State is increasing every day, making people break the laws. The State falls on the unstable geological formation of the rising Himalayas. Deforestation is described as the root cause of various ecological problems, whether landslides or shrinking water bodies. The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway 1A was constructed by cutting the hilly areas without planting trees along the sides, which made it susceptible to frequent landslides. Thus soil erosion started and the areas were no longer suitable for cultivation. The village economy was no longer self-sufficient and some areas close to the highway were even washed away, particularly in the Ramban belt midway on the highway. Checks devised by the authorities failed to prevent the illegal timber extraction in the remote areas. The State Government granted licenses to the forest contractors to fell trees. Trees were felled and later sold in the open markets. Ironically, the forest contractors settled in towns owed their economic prosperity to the timber trade, while the local population in the forest rich belts remained steeped in poverty. The local involvement in the timber trade was restricted to manual labour and shifting timber sleepers after they were cut. In 1979, increasing criticism led the Government to nationalize the sale of timber. Only the State Forest Corporation (SFC) was allowed auction the timber. The forest contractors were allowed only to extract the trees, which were then deposited in the forest depots and sent to the urban centres for public auctioning by the State Forest Corporation. A triangular nexus between the contractors, bureaucracy and local politicians defeated the entire exercise. The forest contractors sold part of the timber in the illegal markets, while the checks failed to crack down on this illicit practice. Every year, fire in the Government timber depots has become common resulting in huge losses to the State exchequer. From time to time it has been alleged that most Forest Depots are set on fire to cover up the shortfall of the timber in the official records.


Division-wise forest area under encroachment as on ending 3/2008

S. No.

Name of Division

Forest area under encroachment 2001-3/2008 (Ha)

A/Srinagar Circle

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2006-07

Ending March 2008

1

Pir Panchal

890

450

450

890.20

511.64

725.37

2

Sindh

230

151.00

150.50

150.50

150-00

489

3

Bandipura

270

164

304.45

158.85

304.45

158.85

Total

1194

1390

765

1345.15

966.09

1373.22

B/South Circle

1

Anantnag

1065

1060

1060.11

1060.11

1414.18

1740

2

Lidder Division

295

25

-

295.00

3

Shopian

768

950

-

1000.00

1000.00

1021.6

Total

1664

2128

2035

1060.11

2709.18

3148.36

C/North Circle

1

J.V.Baramulla

196

221.64

-

196

410.64

410.64

2

Langate

542

95

996

542

2619.50

2619.50

3

Kehmil

1070

1007

794.44

1067

1006.00

1006.00

4

Kamraj

737

419

395

663

537.06

537.06

Total

2284.90

2545

1742.64

2185.44

4573.20

4573.20

Total Kashmir Province

5142.90

6063

4542.64

4590.70

8248.47

9095.47

D/East Circle

1

Jammu

17.25

185.40

-

17.25

17.25

186.6

2

Kathua

37.45

37.45

37.45

37.45

37.45

38.00

3

Udhampur

14.20

14.20

14.20

14.20

14.20

14.20

4

Ramnagar

-

-

231.55

-

235.10

35.06

5

Billawar

221.55

221.55

221.55

221.55

221.55

224.15

Total

273.30

290.45

458.60

504.75

525.55

498.01

E/Chenab Circle

1

Batote

444.80

444.85

464.86

489.00

411.47

411.10

2

Kishtwar

278.55

278.55

278.55

278.55

278.55

278.55

3

Doda

385.70

385.65

385.65

385.70

385.70

385.70

4

Ramban

208.35

204.90

208.00

1533.10

1533.10

1533.10

5

Marwah

4.50

4.50

4.50

4.50

4.50

4.50

6

Bhaderwah

-

-

638.90

-

-

-

Total

1038.85

1321.90

1318.45

1979.96

2613.32

2613.50

F/West Circle

1

Poonch

225

1837

1837

183

183.70

183.70

2

Rajouri

-

-

2201.65

-

2057.03

2057.05

3

Reasi

125.44

125.44

125.44

125.44

125.44

125.44

4

Mahore

879.00

879.00

879.00

879.40

879.40

879.00

5

Nowshera

502

53.40

536.40

536.40

546.94

546.94

Total

2327.09

1731.44

2894.64

5579.49

3792.25

3792.13

Total Jammu Province

3639.24

3343.79

4671.89

8064.20

6931.54

6903.64

Grand Total

8782.4

9406.79

9214.53

12654.90

15179.30

15999.47

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

JANTROON DHAR----THE REAL TREASURE OF CHIRALLA-THATHRI-DODA.

“Heaven on Earth” Omar’s slogan for tourism in J&K

Illegal deforestation, serious threat to state economy as well as ecological imbalance