No trees planted in Ggm after expansion of roads, RTI reveals - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

No trees planted in Ggm after expansion of roads, RTI reveals

Jun 19, 2024 05:38 PM IST

Gurugram civic bodies fail to implement compensatory afforestation after tree felling for road projects, raising concerns about environmental conservation efforts.

The Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) and the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) have failed to implement compensatory afforestation after felling trees for road expansion projects over the last four years, the response to a right to information application has revealed.

Gurugram, India-January 16, 2023:A highrise building view of Gurugram city near Golf course road, The rise in housing prices will stay in 2023 and it will be supported by robust demand for the next one year. The high input costs will create volatility but the residential sector will continue to grow this year. As per the Colliers, CREDAI, Liases Foras joint report, in Gurugram, India, on Monday, 16 January 023. (Photo by Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times)(Pic to go with Abhishek Behl's story)
Gurugram, India-January 16, 2023:A highrise building view of Gurugram city near Golf course road, The rise in housing prices will stay in 2023 and it will be supported by robust demand for the next one year. The high input costs will create volatility but the residential sector will continue to grow this year. As per the Colliers, CREDAI, Liases Foras joint report, in Gurugram, India, on Monday, 16 January 023. (Photo by Parveen Kumar/Hindustan Times)(Pic to go with Abhishek Behl's story)

According to the RTI filed by a city environmentalist, the civic bodies “neglected” the mandated reforestation efforts despite obtaining necessary permissions and multiple reminders from the forest department.

In response, GMDA officials said they conduct plantation drives during monsoons, and said that out of the 1,050,000 target of 2023-24, 10,86,750 trees have been planted.

Additional chief executive officer of GMDA, Subhash Yadav, said that 35,849 trees and 10,50,901 shrubs have already been planted this year. “This year we are targeting 1,500,000 plantations of shrubs and trees. Also, fencing is being done to protect the green belts and central verges. We are preparing to carry out the plantations before the monsoon. The focus is to increase green cover to abate the pollution and reduce temperature,” he added.

Vaishali Rana, an environmentalist based in the city, filed the RTI and highlighted that while trees were cut to facilitate infrastructure projects, the compensatory afforestation—legally required to mitigate the environmental damage—remains unfulfilled.

“When high-ranking officials in GMDA, do not bother about the pending compensatory afforestation, then what can we expect from the regular citizens? Despite the forest department giving at least ten reminders to the nodal officer, environment wing MCG, in a letter dated July 27, 2022, the issue remained unaddressed. Approximately 3,780 trees are still awaiting compensatory afforestation, we do not even know if they have acquired the land required for this effort,” Rana said.

Rana highlighted that seven permissions were sought, and 10 reminders had been sent by the forest department. “While permissions were granted to cut down 502 trees, only 124 were transplanted, and no compensatory afforestation was conducted in the past year,” Rana said, adding that this situation raises serious concerns about the effectiveness of environmental conservation initiatives in Gurugram. “The city’s green cover has been steadily diminishing due to the development projects, but the promised compensatory afforestation has not materialised, primarily due to space constraints,” she said.

Gurugram district forest officer Rajeev Tejyan confirmed that both MCG and GMDA had permission to cut trees for road expansion.

“They had committed to compensatory planting but failed to follow through despite repeated reminders. We are still waiting for their report regarding the plantation and its location,” he said.

Tejyan noted the lack of legal provisions to take action against agencies that fail to adhere to such directives. “Although annual plantation drives are conducted, we do not possess accurate data of their efforts,” he said.

According to a report by the Forest Survey of India, Haryana’s tree showed a decline from 1,565 sq km to 1,425 sq km between October 2019 and February 2020. The tree cover is a green patch smaller than one hectare and outside the forest area.

In December 2022, the first tree census was conducted in the city, as part of a larger statewide census, a first for Haryana. It found that there are approximately 4.1 crore trees outside designated forests, including neem, shisham, pipal, bargad, and eucalyptus being the most common species. The project involved around 150 surveyors, taxonomists, and technical staff over 13 months and aimed to help authorities make informed decisions for green cover management in Haryana, officials said on Tuesday.

The social activist of the city said the lack of compensatory afforestation not only impacts the city’s ecology but also undermines the credibility of civic bodies in fulfilling their environmental responsibilities. Immediate steps are needed to identify and acquire land for afforestation and to implement stricter oversight to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

Citizens’ initiaitve Making Model Gurugram founder Gauri Sarin stressed the need for serious oversight and accountability in compensatory afforestation efforts. “It’s not easy to grow trees that are lost after years. Why is the Pollution Control Board not overseeing this? Just doing lip service and planting saplings on any land available to show it’s done is not the right way to do it. We need a proper mechanism under the Ministry of Environment and Pollution Board. Why should NGT [National Green Tribunal] intervene each time?”

Sarin further questioned, “Gurugram administration and forest department must be answerable for the loss of green cover despite huge plantation drives. We have enough encroached green belts that can be converted provided done with expert help. Comparative data on loss of green cover versus compensatory plantation and its upkeep over years should be the first step towards building accountability.”

Sarin highlighted Haryana’s lack of a ‘Tree Act,’ which contrasts sharply with Delhi’s stringent regulations under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, that mandates significant penalties and obligations for tree cutting. According to Delhi’s act, 34,500 must be deposited with the forest department and 10 saplings must be planted for each tree that is felled. For civic agencies, the deposit is 57,000 per tree, with illegal tree felling being punishable by up to seven years of imprisonment. The applicant can reclaim part of their deposit after five years, but only after a survey by the forest department.

Manoj Kumar, executive engineer of MCG Horticulture wing said that he joined in February this year and does have old data. “This year we have plan to plant at least 4 lakh saplings in the city and have plans to increase by end of the year. We will ensure compensatory afforestation in further expansion works,” he said.

Catch every big hit, every wicket with Crickit, a one stop destination for Live Scores, Match Stats, Infographics & much more. Explore now!.

Stay updated with all the Breaking News and Latest News from Mumbai. Click here for comprehensive coverage of top Cities including Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, and more across India along with Stay informed on the latest happenings in World News.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, July 19, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On