Lokayukta S S Kothari has demanded past five years’ district-wise detail Report on budget sanctioned for plantation, number of plants grown and area covered under plantation and the percentage of successful plantation. The state forest department has to submit past five years’ survey reports about Rajasthan by the Dehradun-based Forest Survey of India (FSI).
The additional chief secretary has been asked to give a comparative report on increase/decrease in state’s forest cover in past five years as well as a report on action taken against personnel responsible for forest depletion.
The Lokayukta took suo motu cognisance of news reports that as per the FSI’s report, the forest cover in Rajasthan has been depleting. This was in contrast to forest and environment department’s claims about successfully planting trees on thousands of hectares of land. The state government has reportedly been making budgetary provisions up to Rs 300-cr annually for plantations.
The Lokayukta noted how reports suggested that Rs 1200-cr to Rs 1500-cr was spent in past five years to plant trees on 258-sq km area but the FSI found that forest cover depleted by 61-sq km area in Rajasthan during the same time period. The news reports suggested that the figures of successful plantation claimed by the forest department in past 30 years should have led to Rajasthan having a forest cover on more than 10% of its land area but the state actually has just 4.75% land under forests. Chittorgarh, Banswara, Bharatpur, Bikaner, Jalore and Sirohi districts have recorded considerable depletion in forest cover.
The Lokayukta has prima facie considered it misuse of state funds and has expressed surprise that the forest department was aware of these facts and still failed to fix responsibility of its officials.
Source : timesofindia