Chandigarh, January 9
THE UT Forest Department has stood by its claim of having the highest green cover in the country . Refusing allegations made by a city NGO that had quoted the Forest Survey of India report, Ishwar Singh, Conservator Forest, today conducted a field visit for the mediapersons to justify administration's stand. All plantations made by the department in the city were shown to the mediapersons, after which a round of the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary was also taken, which as per the NGO was not a part of UT and hence, could not be included in the green cover. Ishwar Singh said by making allegations of poor plantations, the NGO had hurt the sentiments of all city residents and institutions that had been instrumental in all the plantations in city which was their joint effort. Singh explained the green cover of the city was in records 24 square km, which included 15 as forest cover and nine as tree cover. But, he added, the total area was actually 50 square km, which included the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary as well. As per the Section 48(5) of the Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966 and Schedule 13, the land acquisition for soil conservation measures would also vest with UT, which is 2600 hectare, however, has not been added in the revenue records. “We are maintaining the land for so many years now with 190 water bodies. Hence, now there is no doubt that the total green cover is 35.7 per cent as rightly claimed by us”, said Singh. As per 2003 assessment, he said, the forest cover of city was 41 square km and comparing the tree cover figures, it was 8 square km in 2003 and nine square km in 2005, thus showing a significant increase, adding that it was the highest in the country followed by Delhi. “All well-meaning NGOs should see for themselves the ground work done by the department”, he said. He said it was wrong to claim that Greening Action Plan of the administration was a hoax. Justifying the claims, Singh said there was no concealing of facts in the action plan, wherein the administration had rightly mentioned about patch sowing, while stem cutting was also in the plan, total of which 1.5 lakh plantations had been made by the forest department inside and outside forest area while the remaining by other bodies jointly for the benefit of Chandigarh.