Despite directions from the high court and the Centre, the process of de-choking —removing concrete to create a space of at least 6ft x 6ft around a tree —by land-owning agencies in the Capital remains slow.
Delhi's forest department has told agencies such as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), New Delhi Municipal Council, the three municipal corporations, public works department and the central public works department to expedite the process and submit a status report on deconcretisation.
The Capital's tree authority has also called chief engineers of these agencies. "They will be told to tell their jurisdiction engineers not to choke trees with cement and ensure adequate space around each tree," said a member of the authority.Hearing a petition, the high court had recently asked the government to remove concrete covering around trees. The petitioner had said trees on pavements were falling because their roots were becoming weak due to concretisation.
In a recent tree census by the residents of South Delhi's Sarvodaya Enclave, 41% trees were found to be completely choked. "Around trees, only porous tiles can be used so that water can go in," the member said.
But there will be flexibility. "In case of space constraint, agencies may consider leaving equal deconcretised space of 9 ft x 4ft or 12ft x 3ft," he said.
The tree authority says those causing harm—such as non-permitted lopping, nailing or girdling — to trees will not be spared. If charges are found true under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, the offender will face a jail term of up to one year or a fine of up to Rs. 1,000 or both.