iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Ritam Halder, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 26, 2013
 The Jahanpanah City Forest is a lesser-known green cover of South Delhi which acts as lungs for a huge chunk of the Capital’s population. However, this 435-odd acres of pristine greenery is slowly and steadily getting its cover clipped, thanks to felling. As the Hindustan Times took a 100-minute stroll through the apparently dense forest, many felled tree trunks were spotted in various corners of this vast expanse.

As you enter through any of the nine gates — two near Don Bosco School in Greater Kailash II, one each at Tughlakabad Extension, Batra Gate, Dhobi Ghat, Sheikh Sarai, Chirag Delhi, Masjid Moth DDA Flats and Balwant Rai Mehta School — into this forest, a well-maintained picture perfect setting greets you. But as one ventures deeper, a bit further away from the walkers’ trail, the green density increases and decreases too.

Felled tree trunks, some quite fresh, can be seen at every other corner of the denser areas of the forest, especially the portion which shares its boundary with Dakshinpuri. Bunches of twigs and small branches also sport a quite meticulously gathered look.

According to the National Forest Policy, 1988, a minimum of 1/3rd of the total land area of the country should be under forest or tree cover. Delhi, with its abundance of green cover, still fails to fulfill this criteria as only 20 per cent of the Capital is green.

SM Agrawal, president of Friends of Jahanpanah City Forest, said encroachment, lack of proper security and massive tree felling were severely affecting this South Delhi forest area.

“I came for a walk a couple of days back and saw fresh felling. The authorities are apathetic towards the whole issue and if this continues it will spell doom for this place,” Agrawal, who has been fighting for this forest land, near his GK II home, for around two decades, said.

According to him, the lack of security guards, who should be patrolling various corners of the forests, is one of the primary reasons for this. “There should be 30 of them, but there are only 17,” Agrawal said.

The Jahanpanah City Forest is looked after by the Delhi Development Authority. When contacted, a senior DDA official said people from Madangir and Subhash camp JJ colonies go in and out as they want. “We have complained to the police but in vain. An RCC wall can solve this problem,” he said.