The Delhi government has begun an exercise to find out why millions of saplings planted across the Capital in the past many years have failed to translate into a matching green cover.
Various agencies had together planted—at least on paper — 1.78 crore saplings in the past 12 years. But the government has miserably failed to achieve its own target of 30 per cent green cover by 2011.
Delhi’s 20 per cent area is green but is proving inadequate to provide an effective buffer against the noxious fumes being emitted by 74 lakh vehicles every day.
Delhi also has the highest population density in the country — 11,297 persons per sqkm.
A third-party verification will reveal the survival rate of various plants and expose agencies that have faulted in the much-touted green drives.
“This way we can work on weak links, tweak the plantation mechanism and pull up erring agencies to ensure better greening in future. We now roughly plant two million plants a year. The survival of even half the 1.78 crore saplings should have turned Delhi into a dense forest. Something is terribly wrong somewhere,” said a senior government official.
According to a decision taken on July 22, all land-owning agencies such as DMRC, DDA, MCDs and PWD will provide details on the number of saplings planted and their locations to the Delhi Parks and Garden Society (DPGS) within a month.
The DPGS will complete the verification within three months.
“The forest department will again cross-check the DPGS findings. By August 13, DPGS will place its action plan and estimates of funds required before the tree authority. The cost will be shared by land-owning agencies that have raised the plants,” he said.
The survey will also keep a tab on compensatory plantation done when trees are felled for infrastructure projects.
The government admits it doesn’t know the survival rate of saplings and hence there is no plan to arrest the slide.