Question:Explain any five causes of deforestation in India under the colonial rule.
- Increase in population: AS the population increased over die centuries and the demand for food went-up, peasants extended the boundaries of cultivation, clearing forests and breaking new land.
- Commercialization of agriculture: The British encouraged the production of commercial crops like jute, sugar. The demand for these crops increased in 19th century. For this they cleared forests.
- Unproductive forests: The colonial government thought that forests were unproductive. They cleared forests for cultivation.
- Introduction of railway: The spread of railway from the 1850’s created a new demand. As the railway tracks spread through India, a larger and larger number of trees were fell down.
- Tea / Coffee plantation: Large areas of natural forests were also cleared to make way for tea,coffee and rubber plantations to meet Europe’s growing need for these commodities. The colonial government took over the forests, and gave vast areas to European planters at cheap rates. These area were enclosed and cleared of forests, and planted with tea or coffee.
Question: “The First World War and the Second World War had a major impact on forests.” Explain the statement with five facts.
Forests are affected by wars due to various reasons. The chief among them are the following:
- In the modem times, the defending armies hide themselves and their war materials under the coyer of the thick forests to avoid detection. As such, the enemy forces target forest areas to capture the opposing soldiers and their war materials.
- Because of pre-occupation of the participant countries in the war, many proposals for promoting the forest culture have to be abandoned half way and as such, many forests became a prey of neglect.
- To meet war needs, sometimes forests are cut indiscriminately, and as a result forests vanished within no time, one after the other.
- Fearing the capture of forest areas by the enemy, sometimes, the existing governments themselves cut down the trees recklessly, destroy the saw mills 1 and bum huge piles of great teak logs. Such a thing happened in Indonesia when the Dutch Government felt that the area under their control would fall to the Japanese.
- Sometimes, the occupying forces recklessly cut down trees for their own war industries as was done by the Japanese during the occupation of Indonesia in the Second World War.
- Finding the forest staff in difficulty during war times, some people expand their agricultural land at the cost of the forest land. Some people who were excluded from the forest areas, once again tried to reoccupy their lands.
Question: How was the introduction of railway responsible for deforestation under the colonial era?
The introduction of railways had an adverse impact on the forests’. Justify by giving examples.
- Need for sleepers: Sleepers were the basic inputs required for constructing a railway line. Each mile of a railway track required between 1700 to 2,000 sleepers. To meet this demand, large number of trees were fell down.
- Fuel: To run locomotives, wood was needed as fuel. As railway was being spread throughout India, more and more wood was required which could be used as fuel.
- Expansion of railway tracks: From the 1860 s, the railway network expanded rapidly. By 1890, about 25,500 km of track had been laid. Upto 1946, the length of the tracks had increased to over 765,000 km. As the railway tracks spread throughout India, a larger and larger number of trees were fell down. As early as the 1850 s, in the Madras Presidency alone, 35,000 trees were being cut annually for sleepers.
- Contract to private individuals: The government gave out contracts to individuals to supply the required quantities. These contractors began cutting trees indiscriminately. Forests around the railway tracks started disappearing fast.