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Capital counts its dead trees

Indiscriminate felling of trees to cater to the ever-increasing demand for residential, parking and infrastructure space in the national Capital may soon be a thing of the past.

delhi Updated: Oct 17, 2012 01:07 IST
Darpan Singh

Indiscriminate felling of trees to cater to the ever-increasing demand for residential, parking and infrastructure space in the national Capital may soon be a thing of the past.

Residents, in a bid to protect the green cover in Delhi, have come up with a unique initiative to stem the trend.

Several doctors, lawyers, engineers and bureaucrats living in south Delhi’s Sarvodaya Enclave area have come up with a census report of the trees in their locality.

The first-of-its-kind document will be released by Delhi’s chief secretary Praveen Kumar Tripathi on Wednesday at India International Centre.

The initiative was carried out in collaboration with Green Circle, a volunteer group of environment. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/10/17_10_12-metro04.jpg

In the absence of data on the felling of trees, plans for protection and addition of green cover have not been effective.

In subsequent days, reports from other areas, beginning with Sundar Nagar and Jor Bagh, will also be released. “Volunteers have identified 700 trees in Sarvodaya Enclave. Gradually, we will cover the entire city,” Suhas Borker of Green Circle told Hindustan Times on Tuesday.

The release will be followed by a discussion on how to ensure protection of green cover through census and other measures.

Apart from the chief secretary, several other Delhi government officials such as chief conservator of forests DM Shukla, director of horticulture, MCD, SS Kandpal and director of horticulture (NDMC) JP Sharma will be present.

Currently, there is no tree census in Delhi and officials rely on remote sensing data. “When builders demolish old structures and build new houses, they cut trees — some as old as 70-80 years — for constructing parking space and other purposes. Much of this goes undetected,” Borker said.

A latest report of the Forest Survey of India (FSI) says Delhi has lost 0.38 sqkm of forest cover in two years. “Sapling plantation is also not effective because of lack of adequate care,” he said.

Rising pollution levels, dropping groundwater tables and unbridled construction activities are responsible for the loss of green cover.

There are several areas in Capital that fall under neither New Delhi Municipal Corporation jurisdiction nor the three corporations in north, south and east Delhi. There is no authentic data on felling of trees.

The FSI report says forest cover in Delhi has come down. But the Delhi government claimed to the contrary. “With this census exercise, such discrepancies will end,” Borker said.