Maoist violence, militancy hit India’s afforestation programme


Agartala : India’s afforestation programme has been greatly hit in the areas affected by Maoists and militants, senior forest officials said here Saturday.

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“Maoist and militant outfits systematically prevent execution and implementation of various afforestation projects and wildlife schemes,” the officials said at a five-day-long conference here on various forestry, wildlife and environmental projects and schemes.

Indian Forest Service (IFS) officials of 15 states, including the Maoist and militancy-hit states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Tripura are participating in the deliberations.

According to a home ministry report, 13 of India’s states are affected by the Maoist violence with Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkahand the most affected states, while Jammu and Kashmir and some north eastern states including Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura are affected by militancy.

However, the officials are doing their best to carry on the programmes.

“Despite Maoist violence, the forest officials, with the participation of people, continued the afforestation programme in Maharastra,” said B.R. Khaire, a senior forest official of the state.

According to the State of Forest Report-2005, which was released this year, Maharastra has only 20 percent of its geographical area under forest cover as against the national average of 23.41 percent.

“Andhra Pradesh is the worst naxalite affected state in India and the afforestation programme has been hit,” said Chandan Mitra, a forest official of the state.

According to Forest Survey of India (FSI) report, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Sikkim possess the maximum geographical area under forests with 86.93 percent and 82.31 percent respectively.

Mizoram and Manipur have more than 78 percent of their geographical area under forests, while it is more than 60 percent in Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Tripura.

India’s eastern part has also being facing smuggling of forest goods and forest produce to Bangladesh. “Timber, forest goods, fuel woods and various other forest produce have been smuggled out to Bangladesh,” said Tripura forest minister Jitendra Chowdhury.