The recent report by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), according to which Chandigarh has a green cover of around 24%, has left officials of the Department of Forests and Wildlife frowning. The reason is that the FSI did not take into account the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary while estimating Chandigarh’s forest and tree cover, which together make up the green cover.
According to forest officials, ever since the FSI started assessing the green cover of each state and UT, it has always considered the sanctuary as part of Punjab and Haryana primarily because of the available revenue records. “The revenue records still show that the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary lies in the neighbouring states. That is why, the FSI always leaves out the entire forest area of 26 square km while assessing the green cover of the city,” said Kuldeep Sharma, Deputy Conservator of Forests.
He said that the actual green cover of the city is 38%, much higher than the national average of 24%. The green cover includes both the forest cover and the tree cover. “The forest area in Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary is 26 square km while in the rest of the city, it is 17 square km. The total tree cover outside the forests is 10 square km. This data, however, is not reflected in the revenue maps. We have often written to the DC and also to other concerned authorities to get the anomalies amended, but to no avail. It has been happening year after year,” said Sharma. He added that according to the FSI’s report, there has been an increase of 1.5% in the green cover since the last survey.
According to the National Forest Policy, every city or town must have at least 33% green cover, which has already been surpassed by Chandigarh. Officials added that the data regarding city’s green cover should be accordingly amended.