The Delhi forest department has said it does not know the quantum of non-forest land required for compensatory afforestation in lieu of trees to be felled for the third phase of the Metro rail project. Work for the third phase of the Metro started in November 2011.
The forest department, in response to a right to information (RTI) application filed by HT, also says it does not have information on the quantum of land that has already been made available to it. When asked to provide reasons for delays in transfer of land, the department has given the same answer.
In a letter dated December 24, which was also marked to the forest department, union urban development minister Kamal Nath had clearly mentioned to the Delhi government that 40,000 hectares of land was needed for compensatory plantation.
"Of the seventy hectares of land provided by the Delhi Development Authority, only 17 hectares is suitable for plantation… Ownership issues also exist," the minister's letter further reads. In case of Metro expansion, according to the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, the Centre has to provide non-forest land to the Delhi forest department for compensatory plantation. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which has already finished 15 per cent of its phase III work, has to fund the plantation and maintenance of trees to make up for the loss of green cover.
This is not all. The forest department's replies put the total number of trees that need to be cut for the entire third phase of the Delhi Metro rail project at a mere 4,231, while the same letter of Kamal Nath acknowledges that 8,001 trees need to be felled for the project.
The RTI replies claim permission to fell 2,200 trees in two cases has been granted, while the same is under process in four cases. The forest department has gone on to say it does not have information on the number of trees cut so far for the project.