GUWAHATI: Assam’s Environment and Forest Department has emerged as a front-runner in the Life on Land category of the 2020 edition of the Niti Aayog’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) India Index.
The index for SDGs, launched in 2018, evaluates the progress of states and union territories on social, economic, and environmental parameters.
Among the 17 broad-based global SDG goals with 232 indicators, Assam ranks fifth in the category ‘Life on Land’ with a composite score of 78 per cent, according to the Niti Aayog’s report.
Arunachal Pradesh tops the list with a composite score of 93 per cent, followed by Madhya Pradesh 84 per cent, Odisha 83 per cent, and Telangana 81 per cent.
To be enlisted in the category of front-runners, a state or union territory needs to score in the range of 65-99, including both.
On the forest plus tree cover as a percentage of the state’s total geographical area, Assam has registered 37.91 per cent against the all-India average of 24.56 per cent, and under this indicator, it has exceeded the set target of 33 per cent.
The northeastern state has 0.457 per cent of its geographical area covered under afforestation schemes, which is marginally lower than the national average of 0.51 per cent.
Assam also has 9.45 per cent degraded land out of its total area, against the national average of 27.77 per cent, the report pointed out.
The total number of cases booked under the Wildlife Protection Act in Assam is 63, against the national average of 15.
The Environment and Forest department will focus on biodiversity conservation and forest area development, including restoration of degraded forests, habitat improvement of wildlife and extension, human-wildlife conflict management, identification, mapping, securing of corridors, extension of forest cover, enhancing forest and ecosystem resilience to frequent floods and droughts and disaster risk reduction.
It will also give added thrust to community strengthening, forest and non-forest based livelihoods, recreation forestry that include aesthetic forestry and developing ecotourism sites, institutional strengthening and capacity building of staffs and officers, structural reorganisation of field staff and technology interventions, official sources said.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday said that the state has progressed to ‘performer’ category from the ‘aspirant’ category in the SDG India Index 2020-21.
In 2018, the state was in the ‘aspirant’ category in 2018 and has since migrated to the ‘performer’ stage though the data on which the performance is assessed is based on old data, the chief minister had said.
The SDG Index released by the Niti Aayog in 2021 has ranked Assam as ‘performer’ with a score of 57 which is a marginal improvement of the previous index score of 55 released in 2019.