New Delhi: About 19 lakh hectares, or more than two per cent, of the forest area in the country is under encroachment, the government today said while noting that the protection of forests is primarily the responsibility of the state governments while the Centre aids those efforts through its schemes.
"As per the information provided by the states and Union Territories, the forest area under encroachment is 18,99,032.73 hectares, which is approximately 2.47 per cent of the total recorded forest area of the country," Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar told Lok Sabha in a written reply. He noted that the protection and management of forests was primarily the responsibility of the state governments and, therefore, any action to prevent and remove encroachments was taken as per the provisions of the various relevant Acts.
The minister said that various measures are taken by the state forest departments to prevent fresh encroachments, including the setting up of check-posts, use of information and communication technology, improved mobility for field staff, survey and demarcation of forest areas and construction of boundary pillars.
"Local communities are also involved in conservation, protection and management of forests through Joint Forest Management Committees and village-level committees.
"The ministry supplements the efforts of the states and UTs in the protection and management of forests through centrally-sponsored scheme, namely the Intensification of Forest Management Scheme," Javadekar said.
According to figures, 5,52,570.46 hectares of forest land is under encroachment in Madhya Pradesh while 3,17,215.39 hectares are under encroachment in Assam. In Maharashtra, 1,83,171 hectares are under encroachment.