India’s forest revival saga

Dear 21st century humans,

Looks like the Indian government is taking some proactive steps in working towards an ecological lifestyle for it’s citizens.

It has been recently announced that the government plans to spend over $6 billion in reviving the forests in India. They would like to bring to total forest cover in India from 21% to 33% of the total land through this initiative. You can read more about this here. They plan to finance this project with the money that various industries pay to the government for using the land the work on, forest or otherwise.

This sounds like a fantastic initiative! Sure, $6 billion is a huge amount (although I’m a little sceptical as to whether the money paid by industries does indeed amount to this), but no amount is too big to restore the environment.

While we may rejoice at the inititative, and the fact that SOMEBODY has finally decided to take action on the forest cover of the country, it is only the beginning. And I see many many obstacles in the way before this project materializes in reality.

  • Take for instance, the short-sightedness of the government. It has been highlighted in the link above as well, that a lot of the land currently leased to industries were really not supposed to be leased. It was forest land, and should have remained that way. A huge amount of land has been cleared in the last decade to meet the rising demands and has cost irreparable damage. There should have been no need of this project in the first place, had we followed the plan that was established at the start of our country’s democracy. Our founding forefathers deemed that 33% of the land cover must be covered by forests. Well, that didn’t happen. While it is never too late, the government must first reprimand itself for not sticking to this target, and letting things go out of control. Petty politics and greed are to blame.

 

  • Corruption is a MAJOR challenge in the implementation of this project (and I’m sure you were expecting this). The creators of this project will not be the implementers. No. That will be in the hands of the forest officials, forest tribes, state governments and local politicians. And we know where things can get out of hand. How will this implementation be monitored? What steps need to be taken to create accountability and transparent working? These questions remain unanswered by the government. This remains the watershed part of the project.

 

  • Where is the land? Barren land can be converted into forests as I have mentioned in a previous blog. But the time that will take is a lot. Will the government and the concerned officials persist with this project for 30 years? What about changing governments? Will subsequent governments, if different, stick to this project and pull through or will the stay true to their character?

 

  • Also, other than barren land, all the other initial forest cover has now been industrialized or colonized. “Creating” new land is not possible. It will be interesting to know how the government body demarcates this, given there are simultaneous highway projects, bullet train projects, mining operations being encouraged as well.

 

  • There has been no target plan, other than the 33% forest cover, revealed. I understand that the project is still in nascent stages, and a more detailed outline will throw more light on what is to be expected.

I’m hopeful, but sceptical. I hope I’m not disappointed.

 

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