MOST FOREST LAND IN MAHARASHTRA LOST TO AGRICULTURE - 5th June 2013

By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent
Mumbai: On World Environment Day on June 5, a conservationist has warned the Maharashtra government that the state has lost far more forest land to agriculture than to development projects during the last six years.

Neither forests nor biodiversity can be recreated, and the government must, therefore, seriously consider the statistics that have come to light and frame a strategy accordingly, said Kishor Rithe, founder of Satpuda Foundation, an NGO working for wildlife conservation.

In a letter to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on April 19, Rithe said that the entire forestland diverted under the Forest Conservation Act 1980 for all developmental [infrastructure] project proposals for Maharashtra from 2005 to 2012 was 6,627 hectares of forest land for 294 development proposals after approval by the Government of India.

In comparison, forest land distributed to individuals as pattas or plots for agriculture from 2006 to 2013 under Forest Rights Act 2006 was nearly 93,467 hectares.

(Ironically, forested land creates and retains topsoil, the nutrients of which are essential for successful agriculture. LifeForce ed.)

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