NEW DELHI, March 9 - At least 3,878.85 sq km of forest land out of the 45,377 sq km is under encroachment in the eight northeastern States, including Assam.
In reply to a question by Kamakhya Tasa in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Dr Mahesh Sharma said Assam has 17,864 sq km of reserved forest land and 8,968 sq km of un-classed forest land, totalling 26,832 sq km.
He said 40 highlands have been constructed in the Kaziranga National Park under the State Owned Priority Development Fund.
Replying to another question, Dr Sharma said that there are 5,719 wild elephants in Assam as per 2017 census.
The minister added that an amount of Rs 1,126.27 lakh under the Centrally-sponsored scheme �Project Tiger�, and Rs 27.50 lakh under the State Plan scheme have been provided for the development of the National Park.
In reply to a separate question, Dr Sharma said according to latest �India � State of Forest Report 2017 (ISFR-2017)� published by the Forest Survey of India, the total forest cover in the Northeast is 1,71,306 sq km, which is 65.34 per cent of the geographical area of the region. The forest cover in the region shows a decrease of 630 sq km over the updated �India � State of Forest Report 2015�. The northeastern States, except Assam and Manipur, have shown negative change in forest cover.
The major causes of loss of forest cover in the NE region have been attributed to jhum (shifting cultivation) and biotic pressure prevalent in the region.