India's forest cover is down by 367 sq km and a startling 182 sq km of that was lost to Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh chopping through forests in Warangal and Khammam, a new government survey shows.
Of the total decrease of 367 sq km of forest area, Andhra Pradesh contributed a giant chunk of 281 sq km of forest cover lost - eucalyptus harvesting adding to the deforestation. India, says the forest survey, has 23.81 per cent of its land area, a total 78.29 million hectares, covered by forest. In the last two years, 15 states have shown a combined increase in forest area by 500 sq km, Punjab leading that effort. But 12 other states, led by Andhra Pradesh, more than nullify that advantage by recording a combined 867 sq km decrease in forest cover.
The report - India State of Forest Report, 2011 - has been released by the Ministry of Environment & Forest.
Less than a week ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that the country's forest cover had increased by nearly five per cent between 1997 and 2007 and decreased only marginally since.