Whenever a project requires ‘forest land’ it is required to undertake compensatory afforestation on non-forest land. This is to as comply with India’s forest cover policy as set out in 1988 to enhance forest land cover to 33%, which at the time was near about 23%. This is a huge ambitious task, considering extreme pressures on land by increasing population, as well as increasing economic activities. Often projects are not able to find non-forest land to undertake mandatory afforestation. Further almost 40% of the so called forest land is in fact degraded forests with extremely poor tree cover.
Recognising this fact MoEF has now allowed projects afforestation on degraded forests.
Already SAIL, which had to undertake compensatory afforestation to mine Chiria mines in Jharkhand has been allowed to do the same on degraded forests in the state.
As a cynic would say that such initiatives always start with noble intentions, however problem is that considering significant scope of malpractices, safeguards should be put in place to ensure, that down the line required afforestation results in increased tree-cover in actuality and not just on paper.
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