A Healthier and Greener Delhi on Offer – Plant Trees!

Born and brought up in Delhi, I have seen Delhi change, I have seen flyovers and roads being built, I have seen the metro link the whole of Delhi making every area accessible to the nooks and corners even. But with the growing development, I have also witnessed growing menaces ever since I gained conscience.

On a larger scale and a broader view, Delhi provides the delight of a developed metropolitan, but it is when we try to gain an insight into its societies, colonies and slums, that we come to terms to the fact that even the capital needs attention.

Since, my childhood, I have been citing banners and boards reading “Green Delhi, Clean Delhi”. I wonder has it ever been so. The trees are still cut down and the ecological balance has once again started to get distorted. According to the Centre of Science and Environment (CSE), the pollution is rising to ’unhealthy’ levels in the capital. It is to the surprise of none that due to increased felling of trees, the number of respiratory problems in Delhi has gone up. The ecosystem and the health of the populace are compromised everyday in order to renovate Delhi, in order to better build Delhi. The advent of Delhi Metro here was possible only if the roads were broad. Having said that, in some areas trees were felled so that the Metro project progressed properly.

However, the Delhi Tree Preservation Act, 1994 says that, “For every tree cut by an agency or an individual, 10 saplings have to be planted and a refundable security amount of Rs. 1000 per tree cut, to be deposited”, but this, like every other rule went down in the books only and was loosely followed. According to RTI reply, in North Zone, Delhi, between 2003 and 2010, permission was granted for felling 1867 trees, and quite obviously, 18670 saplings were required to be planted, but the actual figure stands at 13567.

However the youth did wake up

The one good take away as a consequence of felling of trees for urbanization is the projection of the fact that today’s youth is willing to stand up for a cause that is not self centred but noble for the society. Students of Gargi College and Kamala Nehru College held protests when trees in the nearby areas were felled for the sake of increasing the road width.

The youth also protested to prevent this menace when in 2007, the trees were cut on Sirifort road, on account of the Commonwealth Games being round the corner.

Yet another instance: It was reported that MCD cut down about 500 trees near Dayal Singh College in order to carve out space for a parking lot. The parking lot was supposed to cater to the Commonwealth Games 2010.
It is due to the likes of organizations such as MCD, PWD, DMRC and DDA that such extensive felling of trees has taken place. However, these organizations promise to comply with the Delhi Preservation Act, 1994, but it has either not been done or done in a very uninterested manner. In some places, for every tree cut, just a sapling was planted instead of 10, as the rule says.

These organizations have paid the deposit but have not turned to planting trees.

As a result, Delhi stands at a sad 10.2% forest cover of its total area, when the national forest policy requirement says a cover of 33% in every state of India.

Well, the dream of a cleaner and a greener Delhi is not a far-fetched reality, if we join hands and vow to plant trees, if we vow to take up responsibility for ourselves, and if we actually dream of Delhi being amongst the high class cities it deserves to be. We don’t perhaps need a Sunderlal Bahuguna; we just need to lead a Chipko movement by ourselves

Animesh Ganguly

Image Source: [http://www.greendream.rbitc.org/anz-planting-trees.jpg]