While India hosted World Environment Day on June 5, and while Madhya Pradesh holds Guinness World Record for planting six crore saplings in just 12 hours, the Madhya Pradesh State Forest Development Corporation (MPSFDC) has uprooted 1,18,646 trees, spread over 172 acres in the name of forest treatment this year.
The area falls in Sehore district, which is 30 km away from the state capital, where the MPSFDC deforested 172 acres between January and March 2018 – declaring those trees aged and useless. However, the forest was only 50 to 60 years old.
In 2012, State Forest and Environment Ministry has passed Forest Treatment Working Plan, which was sent by the MPSFDC to restructure the forests of the state. Ever since, the Corporation is deforesting 172 acres of forest each year. It has deforested approximately 5 to 6 lakh trees, spread over 8,648 acres of land, in the last five years, according to MPSFDC’s data.
However, it has claimed that the trees were 60 years old, and had become useless. The MPSFDC has reportedly uprooted them after the approval from the Forest and Environment ministry. Moreover, the Corporation plans to replant the trees in the upcoming monsoon.
Impact on the environment
Cutting of such a large number of trees is adversely affecting the environment of Bhopal, Sehore and nearby districts. Owing to the heat wave, temperature of the state capital has been touching 44 to 45 degrees this summer, which is unusual weather for the state capital.
As per Forest Survey of India, in last two years, around 39 sq km forest areas – nine in Bhopal district and 30 in Sehore district – have been reduced, and it is directly affecting the weather of the nearby areas. “In the last two years, the maximum temperature of Bhopal, Sehore, Raisen, Vidisha has increased by 2 degree, which is not normal,” said meteorological scientist, DP Dubey.
Moreover, there is also rise in ultraviolet radiation, which causes skin-related dieses including skin allergy and according to dermatologist Anurag Tiwari, cases of skin allergies have increased by 15 per cent in the last four years.
What officials say
Commenting over the issue, former assistant conservator of forests Dr. Sudesh Waghmare said that cutting trees in that area is against the law because the area comes under tiger reserve and Narmada river catchment.
“Cutting trees in the name of forest treatment and replacing them with new ones is wrong. Those were 50 to 60 years old trees. If corporation is planning to replant trees, then it will take them 40 to 50 years to become an exuberant forest. They should hammer out some other solution to conserve the forest instead of cutting and replanting trees. It will only harm the environment,” he said.
When contacted, Divisional Manager of MPSFDC, Aadarsh Shrivastava said that the corporation is working as per the Forest Treatment Working Plan 2012 passed by the State Forest and Environment Ministry.
“According to plan, the corporation will replace old and useless trees with the new ones. And all the trees of those areas were aged and had crossed 60 years. As the monsoon arrives, the corporation has planned to plant lakhs of saplings in the same areas,” said Shrivastava.