New Delhi: Despite a continuous fall in forest cover in the country over the years, the Environment Ministry has failed to effectively implement its afforestation programme to meet the challenge, an official document has revealed.
Under the ambitious National Afforestation Programme (NAP), the ministry in 2011-12 had given its approval for generating forests in 139528 hectares of degraded forests in the country.
However, notwithstanding warnings by a government body about the shrinking forest cover, the ministry headed by Jayanthi Natarajan, could give approval to only 55529 hectares in 2012-13 for generating forests.
It is around 80000 hectares less than the previous year.
National Afforestation Programme of the ministry is a 100 per cent centrally-sponsored scheme for afforestation and tree plantation and eco-restoration of degraded forests and adjoining areas in the country.
The scheme is being implemented through a decentralised mechanism of State Forest Development Agency (SFDA) at state level, Forest Development Agency (FDA) at forest division level and Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) at village levels.
An amount of Rs 2500 crore has been approved for NAP in the 12th Five Year Plan. The ministry had released only Rs 193.13 crore to the states in last financial year under the NAP for generating forests. It is over Rs 100 crore less than the ministry`s financial release to the states previous year.
According to an official document, the ministry, in 2011-12, had released Rs 303 crore to the states for increasing tree cover.
The revelations come amid concerns that the rapid decrease in the forest areas are posing serious danger to the country`s environment.
According to India State of Forest Report-2011, released by the Forest Survey of India, India has lost 367 sq km of forest cover.