Maharasthra lost forests 660 times iconic Oval Maidan of Mumbai in seven years

The sate of Maharashtra lost 58.81 square kilometres (14,532 acres) of green cover in the seven years from 2005-06 to 2011-12, a first-of-its-kind satellite mapping of the state has revealed.

According to Hindustan Times, which published a detailed report on the finding, the loss in the green cover is an area equivalent to about 660 Oval Maidans. The iconic maidan covers 22 acres south of Churchgate in Mumbai, the state's financial district.

 Maharasthra lost forests 660 times iconic Oval Maidan of Mumbai in seven years

The Western Ghats of Maharashtra. AFP

The study titled, Maharashtra Forest Cover Change, was conducted by the Maharashtra Remote Sensing Applications Centre (MRSAC) in Nagpur, and compared satellite images of Maharashtra from 2005-06 with those from 2011-12 to arrive at the figure.

According to the report, "the state’s green cover – including various types of forests, plantations, mangroves, swamps and other tree-covered areas – fell from 56,705 sq km to 56,646 sq km over that seven-year period", whereas, "the area covered by evergreen or semi-evergreen, dense forests fell from 5,426.5 sq km in 2005-06 to 5388.5 sq km in 2011-12, evergreen open forests increased in size from 1378.7 sq km in 2005-06 to 1415.4 sq km in 2011-12. The area covered by deciduous dense forests fell by 922.55 sq km, while 187.47 sq km of deciduous open forest was lost."

However, this report shouldn't come as a surprise, since the state's green cover is already below the standards set under the National Forest Act, 1998. According to The Asian Age, Maharashtra has been failing to maintain the 33 percent green cover necessitated by the act. As of 2016, of the 307 lakh hectares of total area in the state, just around 20 percent (61.35 lakh hectares) is covered by forests.

All this has been despite several schemes and plans being thrown around to improve green cover of the state. In fact, in 2016, the state forest department had shared plans of roping in retired army professionals to create eco-batallion to protect and gorw plants. It was expected to receive Rs 2,000 crore over a three-year period for the same.

In July 2016, according to reports, the state forest department also claimed to plant 2 crore 83 lakh trees across the state on July 1 last year, a feat, also recognised by the Limca Book of world records.

Most recently, in April 2017, the state government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Railways, under which trees were to be planted on the land adjacent to the railway tracks in the state, PTI had reported.

"In order to increase the state's forest cover from 20 per cent to 33 per cent, large-scale forest and non-forest plantation are necessary. Considering this, we had sought Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu's consent for planting trees on the land beside the railway lines and converting that area into a green zone," Sudhir Mungantiwar who holds charge of Forest department had told PTI.

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Updated Date: May 02, 2017 22:49:03 IST