According to government data tabled in the Lok Sabha, a total of 554.3 sq km of forest area in the country has been diverted for non-forestry purposes in the last three years,
The data revealed that the mining accounted for the diversion of the maximum, 112.78 sq km, of forest land
According to information presented by the Union Minister of State for Environment Ashwini Kumar Choubey in the House on Monday, the government approved 100.07 square kilometres of forest land for road construction and 97.27 square kilometres for conversion of irrigation facilities.
In the last three years, the Center has approved 69.47 sq KM of forest land for defence projects, 53.44 sq KM for hydro projects, 47.40 sq KM for transmission lines and 18.99 sq KM for railways.
The government allowed the diversion of 195.87 sq km of forest land in 2019; 175.28 sq km in 2020 and 183.18 sq km in 2021.
However, according to the Forest Survey of India, the total forest area of the country has increased by 12,294 square kilometres in the last seven years.
The latest India State of Forest Report says the country’s forest cover increased by 1,540 sq km between 2019 and 2021.
In place of conversion of forest land, compensatory afforestation is done.
As per the guidelines issued under the Forest Conservation Act 1980, compensatory afforestation should be done on suitable non-forest land at the cost of the user agency, which is equal to the area proposed for diversion.