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The Govt. Has Absolutely No Reason To Justify Its Mass Deforestation Drive In South Delhi

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It’s embarrassing to watch your country’s capital occupy the list of top polluting urban agglomerations in the world. Where three parallel sets of Governments have been throwing mud on each other every day and playing a blame game. The tragedy of the capital of the world’s largest democracy lies in the truth of expanding concrete jungle, diminishing wetlands and other water-bodies, a poisonous river Yamuna and overall unprecedented rise in deadly gases, particulate matters in particular to PM 10 and PM 2.5.

Recently Ministry of Housing and Urban Development/MoHUD, GoI has come up with a redevelopment plan of seven colonies in South Delhi for which they will cut down 14031 trees. MoHUD understands that such a mass level cutting down of trees would face serious protest and resistance from different quarters in Delhi and all over the country. Redevelopment plan of the seven colonies: Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, Mohammadpur, Kasturba Nagar, Sriniwaspuri, and Thyagraj Nagar is a part of long-term environmental sustainability planning to reduce total Original Ground Coverage area of 1305228 Sqm up to 533015 Sqm Post Redevelopment Plan Ground Coverage which will lead a way to expand total Existing Green Coverage Space of 383101 Sqm up to 1069235 Sqm Green Coverage Space.

The government made all efforts to colour the redevelopment plan-paper absolutely green so that they can produce the strongest justification of such enormous amount of deforestation as an act of good faith for the good days to come. Table 1 and Table 2 will help us understand the sketch up of the green redevelopment plan-paper of seven colonies aforementioned. Apart from expanding green coverage space, MoHUD comes out with such a magical statistical explanation on paper that even after felling of total 14031 trees from existing 21040 trees, these seven colonies would have an availability of total 23475 trees after the redevelopment plan comprising 6834 trees saved, 1213 trees transplanted and 15428 trees newly planted.

MoHUD may give a pat on its back but this redevelopment plan-paper is an interwoven ambition of some bureaucrats sitting in the Government to come up with a monster plan to adversely affect the ecosystem for their vested interests. Powerful officers in the Government have been ignoring the Prime Minister’s commitment to the global world with regard to Paris Climate Agreement, Agenda 2030 and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. They are bypassing strong geo-morphological evidence of being a ‘Category 5’ Seismic zone to construct a multi-storey housing design in Delhi. This is how they have sold them out before some real-estate giants in last 20 years.

It’s ridiculous to justify felling of such a large number of trees through a vague compensatory plantation and newly plantation scheme. I don’t believe that such officers have strong scientific and environmental backgrounds to assess and evaluate the economics of felling trees and abundant biodiversity connected therewith. Such redevelopment plan-paper is drafted to defend felling of trees only, and it has nothing to do with the dream to develop seven colonies adopting ‘Green Building Concept’, ‘Zero Waste’ and ‘Environmental and Energy Sustainability’ in long run of the redevelopment plan. There are uncountable numbers of such development and redevelopment plan-papers covered under dust in different Government departments. I wonder how MoHUD can ignore poor global statistics on Environment Performance Index considering Delhi is one of the top polluting gaseous chambers according to prestigious World Health Organisation.

Let’s understand one by one what exactly is this redevelopment plan – promising the expansion of green area coverage by three times from the current green space incorporating modern green building landscape design and technologies to bring environmental sustainability – actually, mean.

Nauroji Nagar has a total plot area comprising 101010 Sqm which constitutes 67%  and 13% of the existing Original Ground Coverage and Existing Green Area respectively. Imagine how redevelopment plan is sketched out for this particular government colony. Plan-on-Paper shows Existing Original Ground Coverage will come to decline on 31% and Post redevelopment plan will record a monumental increase in the arithmetic of compensatory plantation by cutting down 1465 existing trees from 1513 Trees Originally Available. Number of Original Trees saved will be 48. 150 trees would be transplanted, and 250 new trees will be planted which makes the total tally up to 448 trees. Now as per redevelopment plan, there will be carried out ‘Compensatory Plantation’ of trees in the ratio of 1:10 which means 10 new saplings shall be planted for cutting down a single tree. Therefore 14650 compensatory trees will be planted. If we calculate the total number of trees in Nauroji Nagar after full-fledged redevelopment plan submission will be 15098 (448 + 14650). We can observe an enormous expansion of green coverage from merely 1513 trees originally available to a gigantic number of 15098 Trees.

 Table 1

GPRAs Plot Area

(Sqm)

Original Ground Coverage Ground Coverage After Redevelopment Existing Green Area Green Area After Redevelopment
    % Area (Sqm) % Area (Sqm) % Area (Sqm) % Area (Sqm)
Nauroji Nagar 101010 67 67677 31 31313 13 13131 47 47475
Netaji Nagar 442405 61 269866 25 109656 14 63512 53 233917
Sarojini Nagar 1030479 64 659506 26 263924 14 144267 49 504935
Mohammadpur 36818 35 12886 15 5431 38 13991 43 15703
Kasturba Nagar 213715 55 117543 17 36332 18 38469 41 87623
Sriniwaspuri 296230 55 162927 25 74058 30 88869 50 148115
Thyagraj Nagar 54900 27 14823 15 8301 38 148115 58 31467
Total 2175557   1305228   533015   383101   1069235

Table 2 

GPRAs Plot Area in Acres Trees Originally Available Trees to be Cut Trees to be planted/remain in the same place Compensatory Plantation Total
Trees Saved Trees Transplanted New Trees to be Planted Total
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10=(8+9)
Nauroji Nagar 24.96 1513 1465 48 150 250 448 14650 15098
Netaji Nagar 110 2906 2315 1416 175 4450 6041 21450 27491
Sarojini Nagar 254.64 11913 8322 3591 546 8235 12372 83220 95592
Mohammadpur 8.03 562 363 199 20 350 569 3630 4199
Kasturba Nagar 52.81 1203 723 480 150 400 1030 5730 6760
Sriniwaspuri 73.14 1594 750 844 165 1667 2676 7500 10176
Thyagraj Nagar 13.3 349

93

256 7 76 339 930 1269
Total 536.88 21040 14031 6834 1213 15428 23475 135460 158935

Governments are addicted to this compensatory policy whether common man dies in disasters or after deforestation drive for major Government projects. Don’t you think that this compensatory policy had already paralyzed our ecological governance when our major rivers and their respective tributaries are being disrupted by gigantic mega and medium-sized dams and tunnelizations all across the country? Rivers are ending up in the ocean carrying huge waste-load comprising hazardous industrial waste, municipal waste, medical waste, e-waste and lethal plastic waste.

Officers in MoHUD came up with such a green redevelopment plan-paper only to safeguard themselves from the hammer of National Green Tribunal. Otherwise, they have been a habitual destroyer of Delhi’s ecological biodiversity and such a large-scale deforestation was done during the metro rail project, and nobody had ever witnessed a parallel compensatory plantation scheme to balance the loss of green coverage. Now it’s time for the common man of the National Capital Region and people across the country to stand against such brutal policy move. Officers have already started felling of trees in Netaji Nagar Government’s Colony, and they will work day and night to cut down trees which are even 40-50 years older. If you can’t act today you shall leave behind your kids an unhealthy ecosystem which won’t be liveable for a normal healthy person.

Recently NITI Ayog while issuing ‘Composite Water Management Index’ has forecasted a ‘Day Zero’ for Delhi in a couple of years. When Government’s central policy watchdog is issuing a serious threat about underground and surface water availability, in Delhi, officers are busy cutting down trees and justifying it with an extensive complementary plantation scheme without assessing our future we want. The National Capital has turned into a dusty gaseous chamber, while officers are merely exploring options to fulfil their ambitions unaffected by whether a common man lives or dies in an overpopulated, overpolluted city. The government needs to stop and question such policy disasters creating obvious risks to common man’s life.

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