Green Delhi, Clean Delhi might have been its motto but it does not figure anywhere on the agenda of the Delhi government.
The government claims that the protection and addition of green cover figures on top of its list of priorities but it has no manpower to achieve the desired results.
A huge number of vacancies in the three divisions of the forest department have been badly affecting the working of the department entrusted with the protection as well enhancement of the green cover in the Capital.
Officials admitted that it had become difficult to protect and augment greenery because of staff crunch and proposals for augmentation of manpower had been sent to the government.
“There is growing focus on protection and addition of greenery because of rising levels of pollution and greater public awareness and consequent litigations. We need not just to fill vacancies but to create additional posts,” said a top forest department official.
In reply to a RTI application, the north division, which covers north, northeast and east Delhi, admitted it has 268 sanctioned posts of which 99 are vacant. Against the sanctioned strength of 15 forest guards, responsible for protection of trees, only five are working. The division is supposed to have 268 labourers to plant saplings and maintain them. But as many as 85 posts are vacant.
The west division, which has northwest Delhi, west and southwest Delhi under its jurisdiction, has 315 sanctioned posts but of them 73 are vacant. Four posts of forest guards are vacant. A total of 64 posts of labourers are vacant. There is only one gardener working.
The south division (it covers south, central and New Delhi) didn’t furnish the details. But officials confided a similar situation prevails there as well.
“Officials admitted the staff crunch was posing more problems because several new city forests were being developed,” said tree activist Aditya N Prasad, who filed the RTI application.
“We plant more than a million saplings every year. You need substantial manpower for digging pits, watering, hoeing and feeding manure,” said the official.