Delhi-based environment lawyer Rahul Choudhary, who is currently assisting the National Green Tribunal on pollution matters, spoke to Darpan Singh on the Capital's depleting green cover despite spending huge sums on plantation and the possible ways to arrest the slide.
Q: The government claims to plant 1.5 to 2 million saplings a year. Where do they go?
The government should first tell us how many of these have survived. It's wastage of public money. Just imagine the quantum of land needed for such an exercise, even if you allot three feet to one sapling. The figures just don't add up.
Q: Where does the problem lie?
It's important to see where the bulk of this plantation takes place. They mostly do it on pavements and central verges of roads. They keep breaking these structures as a matter of routine. Because of tiling, they have not been able to leave 6x6 feet space around each tree.
Q: Is selection of saplings also a problem?
The government often goes for trees that don't have much ecological value such as Eucalyptus and Ashoka. Such trees don't need much watering and in a span as short as one year, they grow substantially for the forest department to capture the "green cover" through satellites and boast their database.
Q: What ails the compensatory plantation?
There is no stock-taking for such exercises. There has to be a third-party survey to know how much plantation is being done, where and what is the survival rate.