Delhi’s forest department came under the scanner of experts and residents on Wednesday during a daylong discussion session titled ‘Delhi’s dying trees.’
Noted filmmaker and environmentalist Pradip Krishen, who took part in the discussion, said: “I often wonder how Delhi’s forest department envisions its role. There’s a lot they can do. They can save the ridge forest. In the last several years that I have been working in the ridge area, I have not come across a single forest department staff there”.
Krishen whose book ‘Trees of Delhi’ is considered a Bible for environmentalists said it was bad for the forest department to have said that trees and greenery could not come up in a dry, rocky terrain. “The area may not be good for agriculture but it is an excellent for forestry. In a similar but steep countryside near Faridabad, this has been happening,” he said.
Ravi Agarwal of NGO Toxics Link, who moderated the session held at India International Centre, said, “Delhi has transformed from a green capital to a concrete jungle in less than a decade”. “Tens of thousands of trees have been felled for roads, flyovers, Metro, Commonwealth Games, and new constructions. Those remaining have been imprisoned in concrete pavements, or their branches chopped off brutally. Despite the government’s claim of increase green cover, it is clear that there are fewer trees around,” he said.
Responding to some tough questions ranging from ruthless pruning to shortage of staff posed by residents, Delhi’s chief conservator of forests AK Shukla said, “We’re doing what we can. Civic agencies should also shoulder some responsibility. Delhi has a feudal mindset. People use their green areas for dumping garbage.”
Shukla, however, admitted that concrete tiling and metal guards were killing trees and that a large number of saplings were being planted every year but their survival rate was a concern.