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NGT seeks report on tree cover loss in Nagaland and other NE States


DIMAPUR, MAY 23: Following a report that India lost 2.33 million hectares (6%) of its tree cover since 2000, with Nagaland contributing the 4th highest, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Survey of India to submit a report indicating the country’s forest cover, with specific reference to Northeast.
The Tribunal ~ comprising Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava, Judicial Member Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi and Expert Member Dr. A Senthil Vel ~ had registered a suo motu case on the basis of a news report titled ‘India lost 2.33 million hectares of tree cover since 2000: Global Forest Watch’ that appeared in The Indian Express on April 13.
It took note of the report cited data by Global Forest Watch, which tracks forest changes in near real-time using satellite data and other sources, and sought responses from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), the Survey of India (SoI) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
“According to its data, the country lost 4,14,000 hectares of humid primary forest (4.1%) from 2002 to 2023, making up 18% of its total tree cover loss in the same period. The news item further alleges that between 2001 and 2022, forests in India emitted 51 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year and removed 141 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year.
“This represents a net carbon sink of 89.9 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year. It states that an average of 51.0 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year was released into the atmosphere as a result of tree cover loss in India. In total, 1.12 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent was emitted during this period”, stated an order issued by the Tribunal on May 20.
The news report explained that forests act as carbon sinks and sources, absorbing carbon dioxide when standing or re-growing, and emitting it when cleared or degraded. “Loss of forests, thus, accelerates climate change. Tree cover loss is not always deforestation, which typically refers to human-caused, permanent removal of natural forest cover. It includes both human-caused loss and natural disturbances”, it added.
The data showed that 95% of the tree cover loss in India from 2013 to 2023 occurred within natural forests.
Per the GFW data, 5 States accounted for 60% of tree cover loss in India between 2001 and 2023. Assam lost the most with 324,000 hectares, followed by Mizoram (312,000 hectares), Arunachal Pradesh (262,000 hectares), Nagaland (259,000 hectares) and Manipur (240,000 hectares).
According to the Tribunal, the matter indicated violation of the provisions of Forest Conservation Act, 1980, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
“Hence, we implead the following as respondents in the matter: Central Pollution Control Board, through its Member Secretary Parivesh Bhawan, East Arjun Nagar, Delhi-110032; Ministry of Environment and Forest, through its Secretary, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jorbagh Road, New Delhi-110003; and Survey of India, through its Director, Hathibarkala Estate, Dehradun, PIN-248 001. Issue notice to the respondents for filing their response.
“Respondent No. 3, Director, Survey of India, will submit a report showing the position of forest cover in India with specific reference to Northeast from the year 2000 onwards with each 5-year interval covering the period up to March, 2024. Let the report/response be filed at least one week before the next date of hearing”, read the order.
The next hearing will be held on August 28.
(Page News Service)