The Planning Commission has asked the Delhi government to explain the alleged decline in the Capital’s forest cover.
The commission has cited a Forest Survey of India (FSI) report — India State of Forest Report 2011 — released this year. The FSI has compared this report with its 2009 report, released last year, and said the Capital has lost .38 sq km of its forest cover.
Under the union ministry of environment and forests, the FSI has been publishing the biennial India State of Forest Reports years since 1987 with the exception of 2007. The latest report is based on the interpretation of satellite images captured in 2008, while the 2009 report is based on the interpretation of satellite data of 2006.The Delhi’s forest department has termed the FSI report "faulty". "The FSI has not mentioned the correct figures of forestation done by Delhi. We’re sending the actual figures to the Planning Commission," a senior official told Hindustan Times on Monday. The FSI has said the loss was mainly because of felling of trees for developmental purposes.
"With 20% green cover, Delhi is one of greenest cities in the country. But we should also keep in mind that Delhi also has the highest population density - 11,297 people per sq km - in the country. So there’s no doubt that we need to keep working hard to make the Capital greener," the official admitted.
The Planning Commission said the target is to have 33% forest and tree cover. Three years ago, chief minister Sheila Dikshit had said Delhi would have 30% green cover by 2011. But nothing much has changed on that front.
About 200 grown-up trees die every year in the Capital because of storms, trees drying up and lack of necessary treatment. This is besides the destruction of green cover for development purposes.
Suhas Borker of Green Circle, a civil society group, said, “Apart from trees, hundreds of saplings meet the same fate as authorities — after much-hyped plantation drives — fail to look after them.”
“There is no tree census. Officials depend heavily on satellite data, which results in such differences of opinion,” he said.