A new report says that India lost an average of 668.400 hectares of jungle between 2015 and 2020.
Utility Bidder is a UK-based firm that compares utility costs. In a report published last month, Utility Bidder noted that the deforestation rate in Brazil was only second. Brazil lost almost 1.7 million hectares between 2015 and 2020, due to climate change.
Utility Bidders' report examined deforestation trends over the last 30 years in 98 different countries.
The report said that India, as the country with second-largest population in the globe, had to compensate by deforestation. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government came to power in 2014., it has given a boost to projects that were stalled under his predecessor. It also launched new ones. This required clearing vast areas of forest.
Ashwini Choubey, a junior minister, told the Indian parliament that in the five years following 2018, India's Environment Ministry has allocated around 88.903 hectares for non-forestry projects such as railways, transmission lines and defence, he said.
The largest portion of this land, 19,424 ha, was allocated to road construction. This was followed by 18,847 ha for mining, and 13,344 for irrigation projects.
Experts said that such development projects come at a cost to the environment, leading to deadly disasters.
Nearly 20,000 people were affected by land subsidence that occurred in the sub-Himalayan city of Joshimath, which took place in January. The town of Uttarakhand in northern India is the gateway to many mountain trails, pilgrim centers, and trekking expeditions.
Environmentalists believe that the hydropower project undertaken in Joshimath and the surrounding area is the cause of this crisis.
Minister Choubey said that a tree planting drive would be conducted to compensate for the loss in forests.
A report by The Indian Express in March revealed that the existing data on India's forest coverage may not be accurate.
"...bungalows of senior officers and ministers, the Reserve Bank of India and parts of AIIMS and IIT campuses in Delhi have been classified as "forests" on official maps. The report sheds light on the grey areas and ambiguities that could hinder the country's afforestation program from reaching its full potential.