PM approves Jairam’s Rs 45,000 crore forestry plan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has approved Jairam Ramesh’s Rs 46,000 crore project to increase India’s forest cover. The plan, called ‘Green India’ Mission, aims to add 10 million hectares of “high quality” forest cover to the existing 40-45 million hectares, the ministry of environment and forests said.

“The mission aims to achieve annual CO2 sequestration [absorption] of 50 to 60 million tonnes by 2020, which will increase the share of green house gas (GHG) emissions offset by India’s forest and tree cover to around 6 percent as compared to 4.5 percent that would have been offset in the absence of the Mission,” the ministry said in a statement.

India currently spends around Rs 8,500 crore per year on forestry related projects, including Rs 3,000 crore spent by the states. The new program would take the figure closer to Rs 13,000 crore per year.

India has lagged behind China and other countries in achieving or even coming close to its afforestation targets every year. Against China’s record of adding 5-7 million hectares of forests this year, India’s achievements have been a few hundred or few thousand hectares a year during the last decade.

Jairam Ramesh also debunked the long held goal of having 33% of India’s land under forests, preferring to add 5 million hectares (1.7%) of fresh forests in the next years and another 5 million of rejuvinated forests over the same time.

India has around 30 million hectares of degraded forests.