AIIMS revamp plan to impact 2,641 trees, gets Delhi green authority nod
This roughly translates to 47% of the 5,575 trees present on-site—while 2,934 trees will be retained, 1,910 will be transplanted and 731 will be felled. Additionally, AIIMS will also have to carry out compensatory plantation of 26,410 saplings
At least 2,641 trees will be impacted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) redevelopment project, which has received approval from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), according to officials who attended the latest meeting held by the body on August 31.
This roughly translates to 47% of the 5,575 trees present on-site—while 2,934 trees will be retained, 1,910 will be transplanted and 731 will be felled. Additionally, the project proponent (AIIMS) will also have to carry out compensatory plantation of 26,410 saplings (in the ratio 1:10). To be sure, the SEIAA had approved the project on the condition that the project proponent should not use the transplantation agency hired for the redevelopment of the Parliament building, citing media reports that the transplantation rate of the project was fairly low—only around 30% of the trees survived the transplantation process.
“The number of trees at the site is 5,575, of which 2,934 will be retained, 1,910 will be transplanted and 731 will be cut. Compensatory plantation would be done in the ratio of 1:10 as per norms. Approximately 26,410 trees will be planted on land to be identified by the forest department,” the SEIAA minutes of the meeting, held on August 31, said.
The AIIMS redevelopment projects aims to redevelop 152.55 acres of area in the existing East Ansari Nagar and Masjid Moth campuses. This project includes 107.6 acres of the East Ansari Nagar Campus, 30 acres of the Masjid Moth Campus and 14.95 acres of the Trauma Centre Campus Extension. The redevelopment will involve addition of around 3,000 more beds, the project proposal said.
The project was approved afterAIIMS revised the total figure of trees to be felled or transplanted for the project. In the initial proposal sent to the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) in June 2022, around 68.8% or 4,125 trees out of 5,995 trees were to be felled or transplanted. This was rejected by the SEAC, which said this was a very high percentage and that the project master plan needed to be reviewed to ensure at least 50% of the trees were retained on site.
The total figure of trees on-site was later revised to 5,575, after AIIMS said it had erroneously counted 420 bushes as trees, adding that 2,934, or 52.63%, of the trees will now be retained. The SEAC approved the project on August 29, with the SEIAA subsequently approving it in its August 31 meeting.
“The project will lead to the removal of around 47% of the trees on the site. SEAC/SEIAA tried to get AIIMS to reduce felling of trees, but only a few could be saved. More worryingly, recent press reports have also disputed the efficacy of tree transplantation. For the Parliament building project, CPWD claimed a survival rate of 66%, while the forest department has reported a survival rate of 30%. AIIMS has to ensure transplantation agencies which have a poor track record are not engaged for the transplantation,” the SEIAA said, asking AIIMS to instead get a list of good agencies from the Delhi forest department.
“Projects implemented by public agencies should be held to a higher standard than private commercial projects,” it said.