NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party government’s ambitious plan to get plantation drives audited seems to have hit a hurdle.
The government had asked all its agencies — including the municipal corporations and its forest department — to make sure a third-party audit is carried out after the plantation exercise.
This was supposed to serve a dual purpose, to find out if there are patches in the city where more drives can be carried out and to see what the success rates of such drives were.
The Delhi government’s environment department had written to various agencies about the audit process in August last year.
“The response has been very disappointing. Agencies have not carried out the audit and we are already in the new plantation season. Unless auditing is done it will not be possible to gauge how much more land is available as a number of trees that were planted earlier have died. So while they exist on paper, there is nothing on the ground,” said an official.
Till February this year, different agencies, such as the PWD, forest department and municipal corporations, were working to reach their plantation targets.
In July last year, the government had said that it, along with other agencies, will plant around 13 lakh trees. The forest department had the biggest quantum while the municipal corporations and DDA come in second.
Since the plan was finalised last year, the environment minister and several officers have changed. Former environment minister Asim Ahmed Khan was removed after allegations of corruptions. The plantation audit was Khan’s pet project.
Plantation drives in Delhi start in July and end in the first week of October. If targets are not met within the stipulated time, the drives can be continued. The survival rate of trees planted in December and January, however, is not very high as these are dry months.
“We try to complete the plantation process in October so that the survival rate increases. This is why the audit is important. It will help us understand the effectiveness of the programmes,” a forest department official said.