At the time when we are raising voices against the slow and inadequate development in the state or the inefficient government, our Mother Nature is suffering in silence. The axe blows are getting sharper. The heart-wrenching sound of falling trees is getting ever so frequent.
In a recent 2015 report released by Forest Survey of India (FSI), which compiles data every couple of years, Uttarakhand has lost an astounding 268 sqkm of forest cover since 2013. The total forest area has decreased from 24,508 sqkm in 2013 to 24,240 sqkm in 2015. Out of 13 districts, those which lost maximum forest cover include Uttarkashi losing 73sqkm followed by Nainital 70sqkm and Udham Singh Nagar 40sqkm.
If this doesn’t ring alarm bells, maybe a different perspective might give a better idea of this grave situation. Out of all the states and Union Territories, Uttarakhand is the second worst after Mizoram, which has lost 306 sqkm of its forest area. On the contrary, southern states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala have recorded an impressive increase of 2501 sqkm and 1317 sqkm of forest area respectively.
The main reason for the decrease in forest cover in Uttarakhand has been described as rotational felling and diversion of forest land for development activities in the FSI report. Development in the state is always a priority but to find a balance between the nature and the human development is a necessity. Sustainability is the key.
However, as John Milton famously mentioned in his beloved poem, all is not lost. There is still a glimmer of hope. In spite of losing a sizeable forest cover, Uttarakhand is still one of the only 9 states that have a single forest patch of more than 10,000 sqkm. The colossal 19,889 sqkm of single forest patch enveloping the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand provide unhindered movements of the wildlife and preservation of the flora and fauna. The government should strive to keep it that way.
It is high time government wake up and take stern actions against this rapid deforestation and an effective reforestation policy should be implemented at earliest. Ignorance is not bliss. Not when it comes to nature.