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CAG is critical of Odisha’s afforestation efforts

  • Published
    3rd Aug, 2022
Context

A CAG report criticised the Odisha government for choosing teak, eucalyptus and acacia for afforestation efforts rather than Sal, which is native to the state. 

About

Key highlights of report:

  • There was ‘an acute shortfall’ in the Odisha government’s achieving plantation target for the period 2013-14 to 2017-18.
  • The shortfall in achievement of plantation targets by the Forest, Environment and Climate Change Department ranged from 11.98 per cent to 50.89 per cent.
  • Reasons as being behind the shortfall:
  • lack of coordination,
  • working plan,
  • improper selection of plantation sites and plant species
  • The survival rate was 18.37 per cent, which can be treated as ‘failed plantation’
  • Bamboo plantations were executed inside forests having canopy cover of more than 40 per cent, affecting the growth of the clumps due to poor availability of light.
  • The Department could achieve only 74 per cent of the total target of bamboo plantations under the National Bamboo Mission.
  • The target for CA programmes under CAMPA was not achieved within the stipulated period of three years and hence could not compensate the forest cover against the diversion of forest land.

Odisha’s forest cover:

  • Odisha’s forest cover was estimated to be 51,619 square kilometres, 15 per cent of the state’s geographical area.

The Audit:

  • The audit scrutinised the records of diversion of forest land and implementation of compensatory afforestation (CA).
  • The report stated that all scheme-wise annual targets fixed and achieved, both physical and financial, were not provided for audit in spite of repeated requests to the department.
  • It found that the targets of CA under normal as well as pending plantations (yet to be planted) fixed during 2013-18 were not achieved fully.
  • State failed to make its own State Forest Policy, in line with the National Forest Policy, by considering local geo-climatic conditions of the region.
  • It resulted in ‘inadequate planning in enhancement of green cover in the State’.
  • The audit mentions that while Sal is the principal indigenous species of Odisha, teak, acacia and eucalyptus were planted as major species, affecting the native vegetation and biodiversity in the state.
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