Forests 3 times Goa’s size ‘encroached on’
New Delhi: Nearly 13 lakh hectares of India’s forest land, an area almost three times the size of Goa, is encroached on, with Madhya Pradesh alone contributing more than 41% of it. The state has recorded an increase of more than 66 times in the area of encroached forest land in just the past eight years — from 8,077 hectares in 2011 to over 5.34 lakh hectares in 2019 — showing how unabated illegal occupation and piled-up claims under the Forest Rights Act have created a lot of confusion on the ground.
The latest updated data on encroached forest land in 2019, shared by the Union environment ministry in response to questions under RTI, shows that the top five states in the list together currently account for nearly 82% of the total encroached land.
Though the ministry, in its reply to the RTI plea filed by Delhi-based lawyer and environmentalist Akash Vashishtha, doesn’t respond to the nature of encroachment, it shares the complete list of state-wise encroachment saying the “primary responsibility of protection of forests from various threats, including encroachment, lies with the respective state/UT governments”.
The ministry also said state/UT governments “fix responsibility and take action against those found guilty”.