GUWAHATI, July 24 � Expressing grave concern at the wanton destruction of forests in the State, Aranya Suraksha Samiti-Assam has urged the Government to come up with adequate laws and foolproof implementation to ensure that the State regained its lost green cover.
Samiti secretary general Dr Hari Charan Das said that the State�s forests had witnessed an overall encroachment of as much as 40 per cent, which was eroding the State�s green cover in an unprecedented way. The State�s forest cover now is a pathetic 17 per cent as against the 33 per cent mandated by the national forest policy, he added.
�This sinister trend cannot be checked unless there is a strict legal mechanism aimed at preventing transfer of forestland. We also demand that the Government adopt a �green policy� for restoring lost forests and increase the forest cover up to the required 33 per cent,� Dr Das said.
Alleging that there had been large-scale corruption amounting to huge amounts of funds meant for forest protection and afforestation, Dr Das said that the Government should institute an impartial inquiry into the swindling and recover the misused money.
Revealing that the Samiti had moved the Gauhati High Court over large-scale anomalies in the implementation of the National Bamboo Mission in the State, Dr Das said that corruption had also been a major factor behind the dwindling forest cover in the State.
Urging the Government to be strict in removing encroachment from forestland, Dr Das said that while a distinction had to be made between encroachers and traditional dwellers in forests, any leniency in preventing illegal occupation of forestland would result in an ecological disaster.
�Much of the State�s forestland is now under encroachment. A protected area like the Sonai Rupai wildlife sanctuary has witnessed 90 per cent encroachment, which speaks volumes about the Government�s sincerity in protecting forests,� he said.
Attributing the growing trend of unseasonal and flash floods across the State as also the menace of water-logging in the city, Dr Das said that massive deforestation was a major factor triggering such phenomena including erosion, drought, siltation in cropland, etc.
�Deforestation is causing imbalances in the environment with the result that we are having to bear the brunt of developments like unseasonal flood, erosion, water-logging, drought, etc. Unless checked, all these will end up doing irreparable damage to the State�s socio-economic spheres,� he said.
The Samiti organised a convention on forest protection and preservation at the Guwahati Press Club on Saturday where elephant expert Parvati Baruah, among others, were present, making a strong pitch for putting in a concerted effort by the Government and the community to save forests.