Gurugram paid with 14,500 trees for new underpasses, flyovers; forest department to increase sapling plantation
The forest department, this pre-monsoon, has increased its sapling plantation target by 10 times the 2017-18 target, as more than 14,500 trees have been felled in the city over the last two years. The department is aiming to plant over 3 lakh saplings this year.
Besides, the department plans to distribute and sell about 1.5 lakh saplings.
The move is vital as Gurugram has lost significant tree cover in last two years due to the construction of underpasses, flyovers and underpasses at Iffco Chowk, Signature Tower, Rajiv Chowk, and Hero Honda Chowk.
According to the department, 7,221 trees were cut in 2016-17 and the number increased to 7,551 in 2017-18. In 2015-16, 2,276 trees were felled.
As per a Forest Survey of India report in 2017, there was a growth of 0.02% in forest cover in Haryana between 2014 and 2015.
“We will be planting more trees this monsoon to increase green cover. A task force has been constituted to check tree felling and 20 check posts have been set up for monitoring it round-the-clock. We have also procured two drones for monitoring forest areas,” Deepak Nanda, district forest officer, Gurugram, said.
Environment activists, however, said the number of trees cut is higher as the department counts only those for which permission was sought.
“The latest state of forest report confirms that Haryana has slipped to the last place in terms of forest cover in India. In a predominantly agricultural state, the only forest cover is the hilly Aravallis. Haryana must reserve the Aravallis for forests and wildlife, but a large number of trees are cut regularly there as well,” said Chetan Agarwal, a green activist and senior fellow, centre for ecology development and research.
Agarwal said Gurugram is reeling under high levels of air pollution and there is a need to officially recognise forests, especially in the Aravalli region. “Currently, even the Mangar Bani, the best forest in Gurugram, is still awaiting a formal tag of a forest,” said Agarwal.
As per the Forest Survey of India 2017 report, the forest cover of Gurugram is 9.30% of its geographical area.
They said that lack of stringent fines is another cause for tree felling. In Haryana, there is a provision for a ₹200 penalty for felling a tree. “It is of utmost importance that the Haryana government immediately notifies the Aravallis as a forest. Why can’t the authorities mark certain areas as city forests? It is the need of the hour, as Gurugram is one of the top 15 most polluted cities (of India). Drastic situations demand drastic steps,” Vaishali Rana Chandra, an environment activist, said.