GUWAHATI, March 13 � The forest area in Assam as well as the total forest and tree cover have witnessed a marginal increase over the past few years, the State government said today.
In reply to a call attention by AIUDF MLA Mazibur Rahman in the Legislative Assembly, Minister for Environment and Forests Atuwa Munda said that as per Forest Survey of India, forest area in the state has gone up to 27,671 sq km in 2013 from 27,645 in 2005. Similarly, the forest and tree cover in Assam has risen by 124 sq km to 29,253 sq km in 2013 from 29,129 sq km in 2005.
Munda said that as per Indian Forest Service (IFS) rules, IFS officers of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre get promotions in line with cadres in other states.
He said that eligible IFS officers have been promoted to suitable ranks, while officers with record of dereliction of duty have been suitably punished.
Munda said that before the introduction of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, forest land in the state faced some encroachment from flood-affected and landless people.
He added that certain forest areas lie in inter-state and international boundaries and some neighbhouring states have also encroached upon some forest lands.
Munda refuted charges regarding illegal cutting of trees for undertaking National Highway projects, but admitted that some felling of trees have been undertaken as per law.
He said the State government is committed to protection of forests and wildlife and action has been taken against miscreants for illegal cutting of trees or encroachment of forest lands.
Earlier, Rahman expressed concern over media reports regarding deforestation in Assam and said if such things continue it will hurt the environment and ecology and also impact the state.