GUWAHATI: Amidst protests against the government’s felling of tress to facilitate road infrastructure across the state, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, on Friday, said that Assam is “exceeding all targets in afforestation”.
Revealing statistics online, the Chief Minister claimed that the state is very much in line with the Centre’s Mission LiFe and said that according to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) recent data, the state has been “reaping dividends” from it.
“Happy to share that latest NSSO progress report show our state is exceeding all targets in afforestation,” he wrote a micro-blogging website, with a detailed graphic of all the figures.
The data reveals that between April and June 2023, Assam successfully afforested 2,742 hectares, surpassing its initial target of 2,538 hectares by 207 hectares. An impressive tally of 55 lakh seedlings were also planted during this period.
However, this “green” feat comes at a time when there’s considerable uproar against the state government’s deforestation measures. The decision to axe more than 3000 trees, some of which are 300-year-old, for widening of National Highway 515 from Kulajan to Jonai in Dhemaji district, has especially drawn intense criticism.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the copy to the Union environment and forest minister, Bihanga Bandhu, a biodiversity conservation organisation, has expressed serious concern over the felling on the National Highway 515 in Dhemaji.
“The root system of these trees has been preventing soil erosion, thus keeping that patch of road intact in times of flood which is frequent in the district,” the press quoted from the letter.
Earlier in the week, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) had come under scrutiny for cutting down more than 10,000 trees on both sides of National Highway 27 from Chaaygaon to Goalpara in Assam, further intensifying the debate.