Delhi govt’s ‘green fellows’ to help tackle pollution

The Delhi government has decided to hire young students and professionals to become ‘green fellows’ under their ‘Green Delhi’ mission to assist the understaffed environment and forest departments in managing issues related to air pollution, water pollution and management of the Capital’s forest lands, said senior government officials on Saturday
Dust pollution at Kirti Nagar in New Delhi on Sunday. (Sanchit Khanna /HT photo)
Dust pollution at Kirti Nagar in New Delhi on Sunday. (Sanchit Khanna /HT photo)
Updated on Oct 25, 2021 01:20 AM IST
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The Delhi government has decided to hire young students and professionals to become ‘green fellows’ under their ‘Green Delhi’ mission to assist the understaffed environment and forest departments in managing issues related to air pollution, water pollution and management of the Capital’s forest lands, said senior government officials on Saturday.

Senior officials said the fellowship programme by the environment department aims at engaging the city’s youth in assisting the government in their mission to tackle environmental concerns.

Under this programme, the government will engage three specialists, 10 fellows and 15 associate fellows for a period of four years to assist the city’s understaffed environment and forest departments in improving their research, on-ground presence and public engagement programmes related to environment issues.

“The fellows will be assigned to work under senior officers (such as principal secretary, special secretary, director etc) or any other officer designated by the environment minister and in coordination with the environment department, Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), the green war room as well as other departments,” a senior official from the environment department said.

The official said the applications for the fellowship programmes are in; the environment department will now assess the merit of the applicants and recruit them ahead of the upcoming winter season.

Government officials also said while these fellows will assist the government in the upcoming months in better assessing the pollution sources in winter, they will eventually help the department undertake the much-awaited tree census, which has never been conducted in the city. Residents from some localities in the city, such as south Delhi’s Sarvodaya Enclave, Vasant Vihar and Greater Kailash, conducted their neighbourhood tree census but this was a private exercise.

While the Delhi government expressed its interest in conducting the tree census in the city in 2018 and engaged Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute for the task, the proposal never took off. In 2015 too, the government planned a tree census after the high court observed that the city is not as green as official figures make it out to be.

In 2017, a few government agencies and civic bodies started a census and counted around 18 million trees. But the exercise could not be completed and was left midway as some agencies could not submit their data.

While Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai refused to comment on the government’s plan to conduct a tree census, Reena Gupta, advisor to the Delhi government, told a news channel on October 20 that the ‘green fellows’ will assist in the task.

“Of course, we want to do a tree census all over Delhi in all the colonies, but we do not have people in the forest department. Under this new programme..., we are hoping some of these will help us conduct the tree census,” Gupta told the news channel.

Experts also said that Delhi, which is grappling with the problem of air pollution, needs a comprehensive tree census to get a clear picture of where the city stands in terms of its green cover, which will also help agencies plan plantation drives better in the future.

C R Babu, professor emeritus at Delhi University’s Centre for Environmental Management and Degraded Ecosystems, said the tree census could give an idea as to how prepared the city is when it comes to fighting pollution.

“The girth and the canopy details of trees will give us an idea as to how much carbon is trapped in these trees, how much dust they can trap and how much pollution they can mitigate, thereby helping the city focus its fight against pollution,” he said.

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Sunday, December 05, 2021