More than 200 trees lining the Janpath-Mandi House area in central Delhi could be chopped to make way for Delhi Metro. These trees, many of which are rich in medicinal properties, are nearly a century old and date back to the time the new Capital was founded.
Yet, within a few days, many such trees will face the axe. Taking their place will be Metro tracks and a Metro station.
Meanwhile, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has already brought down 36 trees. DMRC officials said that they have obtained permission from the Forest Department to chop as many as 203 trees at various places, including Chelmsford Club, Janpath and Mandi House.
Anuj Dayal, DMRC spokesperson said: "We have compensated the Forest Department for this. We have paid Rs 28,000 for cutting each tree. Now, it's the Forest department's responsibility to carry out afforestation."
As per the norm, the Forest Department plants 10 trees in lieu of each tree that is cut, Dayal said. The Forest Department, however, failed to complete afforestation for thousands of trees that DMRC had chopped during the past decade for construction under phase 1 and 2, reportedly due to shortage of land and staff.
DMRC has already paid Rs 15.34 crore to the department during the last 10 years, officials said. "In such cases, we carry out afforestation on forest land. But now, we have severe shortage of land where afforestation can take place," said Rajgopal Prashant, Deputy Conservator of Forests (South). "Afforestation will not benefit us at least for three to four decades," said Ajay Mahajan, a member of Kalpbriksh, an NGO working on environment issues. He said DMRC was environment-sensitive during phase 1.
"But from phase 2, their sensitivity has reduced. Choosing alignment through green belts shows that saving trees is no longer their priority. The Central Secretariat-Badarpur corridor and the Gurgaon line pass through a rich green belt," he added.
Dayal, however, said DMRC would also carry out a plantation and greening drive around the station premises after completion of the Metro construction under phase 3 - scheduled to be over by 2016.