To fight air pollution, 5 lakh saplings planted in a day across Delhi
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To fight air pollution, 5 lakh saplings planted in a day across Delhi

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal called the efforts a “mass movement launched by the people of Delhi” to combat air pollution.

delhi Updated: Sep 08, 2018 22:51 IST
Joydeep Thakur and Vatsala Shrangi
Joydeep Thakur and Vatsala Shrangi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi,air pollution,Delhi government
School children hold saplings as they take part in a tree planting campaign in New Delhi on September 8.(AFP Photo)

The national capital set a record of sorts when on Saturday government agencies planted 500,000 saplings on a single day across 643 locations in the city.

In plantation drives held during the monsoon in the past years, the Delhi government never planted more than 50,000 saplings in a day.

Amid citizens protest and litigation over a proposal to cut at least 14,000 trees for redevelopment of seven neighbourhoods in South Delhi, the authorities on Saturday announced new greening initiatives such as ‘adopt a tree’ scheme for residents living in Lutyens’ Delhi and ‘geotagging” of all 500,000 saplings that were planted across the city.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal called the efforts a “mass movement launched by the people of Delhi” to combat air pollution.

“Delhi is battling severe air pollution and we can feel the dust around us. All of us are responsible for this situation and now the onus is on all of us to resolve this,” he said after planting a banyan sapling at the Garhi Mandu plantation site in east Delhi.

JA Chouhan, principal chief conservator of forest of Delhi, said workers had been planting saplings at Garhi Mandu site since 2:30 am in order to hit the target.

But the plantation drive came with its own set of problems.

Dozens of labourers hired for the plantation were seen planting the saplings with plastic covers intact.

“Saplings have to be taken out of plastic bags and then planted. How will the roots that are sealed in plastic covers ever grow into the soil? This is common sense,” said Fayaz Khudsar, scientist in-charge of the Yamuna biodiversity park.

Experts also red-flagged problems geo-tagging could create if not done properly. “We have only one trained officer. If we employ labourers without training and they miss the location -- longitude-latitude locations are necessary to get accurate satellite imagery of each plant so its health and growth can be regularly monitored -- we will get all our readings wrong,” said a senior official at the city’s forest department.

The New Delhi Municipal Council that planted 10,000 saplings in parks and road corridors falling in its jurisdiction, also launched ‘adopt a tree’ scheme wherein a resident can pick a tree and look after it in her lifetime. “Residents can log on to the civic body’s website to adopt a tree and will have to update about its growth on a regular basis,” said NDMC chairperson Naresh Kumar.

First Published: Sep 08, 2018 22:49 IST