Saplings not watered, govt orders action

During Thursday’s inspection, the minister observed that while overall, the plantation showed normal growth, in some pockets, it appeared that the saplings were not adequately watered and taken care of.
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal after planting a sapling during the launch of a mass plantation drive at Yamuna flood plains.(Sonu Mehta/ Hindustan Times)
Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal after planting a sapling during the launch of a mass plantation drive at Yamuna flood plains.(Sonu Mehta/ Hindustan Times)
Updated on Sep 21, 2018 01:19 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Delhi’s environment minister Imran Hussain on Thursday directed the forest department to ensure proper care of saplings after finding that some of them, planted barely 12 days ago, were not doing well.

Hussain on Thursday visited Garhi Mandu in northeast Delhi, where more than 60,000 saplings were planted on September 8 as a part of the Delhi government’s mega plantation drive.

More than five lakh saplings were planted on that day at 643 locations across Delhi.

“During Thursday’s inspection, the minister observed that while overall, the plantation showed normal growth, in some pockets, it appeared that the saplings were not adequately watered and taken care of,” a government statement said.

He directed that the forest department coordinate with other greening agencies such as civic bodies, public works department and the Delhi Development Authority, among others, to ensure proper care and upkeep of saplings for a 100% survival rate.

A recent report from the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) had said that the plantation of 28.12 lakh trees, between 2014 and 2017, could not lead to a commensurate increase in tree and forest cover, thereby raising concerns about the efficacy of Delhi government’s plantation drive.

The report also stated that the Delhi government does not have a forest policy of its own and, hence, lacks a road map or strategy to improve forest cover.

Survival of the saplings in the long-term is crucial, as it will serve the real purpose of reducing air pollution in Delhi, the statement said.

For the first time this year, the government has announced that all saplings would be geo-tagged to monitor their growth.

However, experts believe that plantation must go hand in hand with the primary objective of conserving green spaces and not act as a replacement of trees felled.

“The survival rate of plantation has been an issue for want of a concrete monitoring exercise. Also, plantations must be a secondary exercise and the focus must be on conserving green spaces. More vigilance is required,” Kanchi Kohli, researcher, Centre for Policy Research, said.

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