NOIDA: Given the slow pace of development of green cover in the NCR region, the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) has taken strong exception to the fact that the Uttar Pradesh sub-region has fallen far short of ensuring increase in forest cover. As per reports of the Forest Survey of India (FSI) for 2009 and 2011, forest cover in the Uttar Pradesh sub-region has stagnated at a mere 2.6% in comparison with Rajasthan, Haryana and NCT of Delhi. The NCRPB, which has mandated forest cover to be 10% of the total geographical area as per its Regional Plan 2021, has now taken up the matter with the state government.
Sources in the NCRPB say that the UP sub-region has been responsible for pulling down the rate of growth of forest cover in the NCR region which has increased by a mere 0.03% from 6.11% in 2009 to 6.14% in 2011. While the forest cover in Haryana sub-region stands at 3.35%, the sub-regions of Rajasthan and NCT of Delhi, which have forest cover of 14.38% and 11.87%, respectively, have reached above the benchmark of 10% as set up by the NCRPB.
“For the NCR region to achieve optimum forest cover, the UP sub-region should pull up its socks,” said a senior planning board official. “While there has been no increase in forest cover in NCR districts of Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar, Bulandshahr has shown depletion in forest cover between 2009 and 2011,” said the official.
The NCRPB has made it imperative in its Regional Plan of 2021 – in view of the rapid urbanization in the NCR region – that more areas in the sub-regions be brought under forest cover to maintain ecological balance. “In order to achieve this, we have mandated for massive forestation drives along irrigation canals, drains, roads, railway lines and in village common lands,” said the official. “The actual area under forest cover, at present, is even less because the technology used in mapping forest cover via satellite also picks up green areas like shrub cover, green fields and even golf courses,” added the official.
The forest department of Uttar Pradesh has said that forest cover has remained stagnant in the UP sub-region because of the pressures of population and urbanization. According to the department, apart from ‘forest areas’, which consist of all areas recorded as ‘forests’ including reserved and protected forests, they have very little land for development of ‘forest cover’ (tree cover in any area irrespective of the ownership of land).
“Western UP is the hub of developmental activities with huge land constraints,” said Anupam Gupta, conservator of forests of the Meerut division. “Widening of highways and roads take place constantly, leading to depleting forest cover. However, even though we have undertaken fresh plantations over several hundreds of hectares, it would take at least 5-6 years to get reflected in the satellite imagery,” said Gupta.