ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION THROUGH DEFORESTATION
There was Kudos for the conscientious people of Kerala when they initiated the programme of ‘Smrithivanam’ in the early nineties. They started planting trees in memory of the dead. It is a living graveyard helping the ecology to improve. Even an ordinary man knows that forests invite water laid clouds, provide timber, are a source of nitrogenous manure, preserve soil from erosion, suck the subterranean water and provide shade and safety to small plants. Forests have also been providing a number of fruits including pine apple, coconut and charauli. They have now come under regular plantation.
It is because of the absence of trees in Rajasthan is more or less a desert area. Still people, contractors and even government have been denuding forests. The Chipko movement of Uttar Kashi and Almora and Apiko movement of Kanara in Karnataka have not stopped killing the benevolent creation of nature that saves environment.
The denudation of hill forests in Doon Valley in UP, Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra and Mahendragiri in the South have brought havoc in these areas. The trees are felled for commercial mining and in the name of tourism. Vast areas in Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have been brought under cultivation after felling the trees. Huge dams have cleared a number of forest regions in Punjab, Orissa and the South.Sardar Sarover Narmada Project is not the last nail in the coffin of forest.
Because of the rise in population the axe has fallen on forest areas for residential needs and for procuring agricultural needs. Forest wealth has already depleted in Bihar –Bengal- Orissa border belt because of coal mining. No efforts have yet been made to rehabilitate the consumed area with trees. With the rise in population in the Indian sub continent there is a general rise in the defense forces in India too to face the danger from Pakistan, Bangladesh and the foreign forces beyond the North Eastern region of the seven sisters of Assam and other states. The axe of 23 army Brigade, Ranchi fell on the Neterhat hills dotted by scores of forest villages in Palamau and Gumla districts in South Bihar. It was a pity that the State Government and the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment decided to hand over 206 sq.Km. to the army for setting up field firing range. About 40,000 tribals residing in the areas started a ‘beat the drum’ agitation.OnlyGod knows if the sound will be heard by the authorities who have planned to acquire 34 villages and notified 127.
The problem at Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka is a bit different but equally serious. In the late sixties and early seventies the Kabini dam had submerged 10,000 acres of land. 9000 acres of forest land was cleared of trees for relocating to the displaced non tribal population. The tribals were moved to the Nagarhole National Park. The government wants to relocate the tribals living in 54 settlements an area of 2000 hectare within the park. It plans to provide facilities of residence, hospitals and schools at the settlement located near Veerannahosalli, on the Hunsur-Nagarhole road. But the tribals especially the 70 Kurba families residing near Kabini reservoir areas in Maladadi Hadi area resist their shifting .The tribals too have their interest in denuding forests. They have cleared over 300 acres of forest land. They lease the land to Keralites for growing ginger and charge Rs.2000 per acre from them.66, 500 Men living in 96 villages located within5 km of the park periphery have 27,600 cattle. This high ratio of cattle provides the dung, sold as manure .The animals graze in the forests without any charges and on being grown up are sent to slaughter houses in neighboring Kerala .The consciousness about the forest health to save environment is not to be aroused among the government agencies and the people but among the tribals themselves whom the forests sustain.