June 07, 2008

Punjab - No Forests Left--Environmental Emergency

Punjab is India's most progressive state . But it is now paying a heavy cost for its progress .

From " Punjab ", ( land of 5 rivers ) it seems to becoming " Be -Aab "( Without Water ) . Many small but perennial rivers have dried up . Just drive along Punjab's roads . You would notice so many long bridges but absolutely no trace of any water flowing underneath . Punjab's water table is , also , falling alarmingly .

Now, comes another alarming news . Punjab , now , has India's lowest forest cover-a mere 3.14% of its total area .The magnificient forests of Nabha Bir , Bhadson forest , Jungles in the foothills of Shivaliks in Hoshiarpur and Ropar districts have all vanished . One has only to look at the engravings on Nurmahal ( Jalandhar ) Serai's walls to realise that not long ago there were Rhinos in then jungles of Nurmahal . The Great Tenth Guru hunted in jungles of Anandpur Sahib . He rested in forests of Machhiwara ( where he penned the immortal " Mitter Piyare Nu "). All jungles have vanished ." Mata Shera Wali " no longer has big cats around her Durbars .

Clearly the Forest Department exists only in name . It has failed utterly .

An environmental emergency should be declared in Punjab. The working of the Forest Deptt. should be overhauled and de -bureaucratised . N.G.O.s and voluntary environmentalists should be given the task of reviving Punjab's forest cover .

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