DDA struggling to provide land for compensatory afforestation in Delhi

Published on Aug 15, 2021 11:45 PM IST

New Delhi: With several large-scale development projects requiring “diversion of deemed forests” the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is finding it difficult to make available non-forest land for compensatory afforestation (CA) in the Capital and is currently exploring if such land can be provided in neighbouring states

HT Image
HT Image

New Delhi: With several large-scale development projects requiring “diversion of deemed forests” the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is finding it difficult to make available non-forest land for compensatory afforestation (CA) in the Capital and is currently exploring if such land can be provided in neighbouring states.

DDA officials said that for diversion of deemed forests -- an administrative process by which the land is reclassified for non-forest purposes -- equivalent non-forest land has to be provided for CA.

Of the requests for 136 hectares of non-forest land for CA from various agencies in the past one year, DDA officials said the government agency has been able to provide nearly 116 hectares, in areas like Dhulsiras village in Dwarka, Holambi Kalan and Todapur village, and is struggling to find land to meet the remaining requests.

“The green cover in Delhi is 23% and most of the spaces earmarked as green are saturated in Delhi. It is difficult to find large land parcels for CA,” said Rajeev Kumar Tiwari, principal commissioner, DDA.

Non-forest areas with high density plantation are treated as deemed forest by the Delhi government’s forest department. “All development agencies have placed requisition before DDA for equivalent non-forest land for CA as per rules,” said the DDA official.

Due to paucity of land for compensatory afforestation in the Capital, the land-owning agency is now exploring if land for CA can be provided in neighbouring states for proposed central government projects in Delhi.

In May this year, the DDA wrote to the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change seeking clarity on the issue, following which the ministry’s forest advisory committee (FAC), which discussed the matter in June end, has asked Delhi authorities to provide additional information about their plan for the Capital’s green cover.

“The FAC has been conscious that any relaxation in the compensatory afforestation norms will ultimately lead to reduction in forest cover of Delhi which is not a desirable situation for residents of Delhi in the present and in the future,” as per the minutes of the meeting.

DDA officials said that they are yet to get an official communication in this regard.

DDA, which is the main land-owning agency in Delhi, said that there is very limited land available in the Capital.

“Delhi is largely urbanised. Most of the areas identified as recreational green under the Master Plan have already been used either as parks or for plantation. So, availability of Master plan green areas for the purpose of CA are now very limited,” said an official, who did not wish to be named.

With increase in population, another DDA official said, the limited vacant land parcels available in Delhi also need to be reserved for planning public utilities.

Compensatory afforestation can also be done on degraded land -- it is to be spread over twice the extent of the forest area diverted -- in case of projects implemented by the central government or its public sector undertakings.

The official said this is the reason why the DDA wrote to the environment ministry, asking if degraded forests for CA can be given in neighbouring states for Central government projects proposed in Delhi.

However, not everyone is in favour of looking for land outside for projects in Delhi.

“This is an ecologically flawed idea. The move, if allowed, will defeat the purpose of compensatory afforestation. It should be done in the same state. The focus should be on sustainable development and cities need to take necessary measures and frame policies to bring down use of private vehicles etc. Just building flyovers is not a solution,” said Vijay Dhasmana, ecologist and curator of Aravalli Biodiversity Park, Gurugram.

A DDA official said that with Yamuna rejuvenation work going on at a fast pace, “there is not much land available for CA as most of the floodplain area has already been committed to the compensatory plantation requirement of various agencies”.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Sunday, February 05, 2023
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals