The future of about 10,000 trees in northwest Delhi’s Pooth Khurd village is in limbo.
The Delhi government wants to cut the trees for one of its many projects of building low-cost housing for the urban poor. The forest department has already rejected an application seeking permission to cut the trees.
It told the project executor, the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC), to realign the project to avoid such a massive destruction of the green cover.
The DSIIDC has moved a fresh tree-felling application but the forest department is yet to take a call on it. Delhi forest department head GN Sinha said, “We support such development projects, especially low-cost housing for the poor. But there should not be unnecessary felling of trees.”
In the run-up to the 2008 assembly polls, Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit had promised rehabilitation of slum dwellers under Rajiv Rattan Awas Yojna.
The DSIIDC had to build 70,000 such houses across the city but has managed to build only 14,000 till now. With the assembly elections slated for November, the state government is running against time to keep its promise.
The DSIIDC had sought felling of about 7,000 trees at the village but forest department officials inspected the site and found there might be 9,000 to 10,000 trees there.
Sources said since it is a high-priority project of the government, the forest department has been “informally requested to explore” if the DSIIDC can be exempt from depositing “the massive tree felling fee and planting so many (compensatory) saplings”. However, this has not been conveyed officially.
“We would be happy if the project can be slightly restructured or altered to save as many trees as possible without compromising the project’s core objectives. This should be the endeavour of not only the forest department but all government agencies,” Sinha said.
Low-cost housing for urban poor has been a key political issue. Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel said the state government had betrayed “the 40 lakh people living in 600 slum clusters in Delhi”.