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Cutting 16,500 Trees In South Delhi Is Suicidal And Must Be Stopped At All Costs

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Nobody had imagined even in their wildest dreams that just two weeks after celebrating the World Environment Day, the national capital would wake up to the awful news of the plan to chop down nearly 17,000 trees. Apparently, the trees are being cut to make way for redevelopment projects around seven neighbourhoods, which include Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar and Netaji Nagar.

According to a Hindustan Times article, the environment impact assessment report for the projects in south Delhi reported that 11,000 out of 13,128 trees will be cut in Sarojini Nagar. 1,465 trees will be cut in Nauroji Nagar, 3,033 trees will be chopped off from Netaji Nagar and another 520 will be felled in Kasturba Nagar for the redevelopment of central government accommodations in the area.

Image source: RinchenOngmu/Twitter

Following an uproar among residents and activists over the felling of thousands of trees, the Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said “compensatory plantation” was being carried out. He tweeted, “Compensatory plantation of trees is being carried out in a ratio of 1:10, i.e. ten trees are being planted against the loss of one tree. Thus, 1,35,460 trees shall be planted, which will create an ‘Urban Forest’.”

The burning issue has now taken a political turn, with Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan and the Delhi government blaming each other for permitting this deforestation drive.

Speaking to the media on Saturday, Vardhan said, “For the non-forest areas, whatever local permission is to be given is done by the Delhi government. It is directly under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government and not governed by us.”

In response to this, AAP national spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said the following in a tweet directed against Vardhan: “The file about ‘Redevelopment Project’ says Environment Clearance for the project has been approved by MoEF & CC, GOI vide letter dt 27.11.2017. Did your Department give Environment clearance to this project?”

Meanwhile, in the midst of this political mud-slinging and blame-game, citizen groups have started a campaign against the project. They held a candlelight march at Sarojini Nagar on Saturday. A ‘hug-a-tree’ campaign is also being organised – modelled on the lines of the Chipko Movement in the 1970s. Pleas to stop the project and save the trees have been filed both in the Delhi High Court and the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Young students have come forward against the felling of trees and are organising mass campaigns to register their protest.

According to a recent WHO report, India has 14 out of the 15 most polluted cities in the world – and Delhi is sixth on the list. Not just this, heavy pollution was reported in Delhi recently this summer, with very thick layers of dust surrounding the national capital. This was truly unprecedented – because till now, the pollution levels in Delhi used to shoot up to the ‘severe’ category only during winters.

With Delhi already facing so much pollution, the cutting of 16,500 trees (that too in an area which has the best of Delhi’s green cover) to construct a colony and market area is a suicidal and disastrous move. This is a step ahead in creating a permanent all-weather gas-chamber in Delhi.

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  1. D Js

    People who do not live in Delhi may not know it, but every single administration out there has been waiting for an opportunity to get their hands on prime land in Delhi, with the property dealers getting into a nexus with the political party of the time, to cut the trees and get a profit and then build their buildings over the land.
    This state government owned business development enterprise which has got the contract has been given the go-ahead by illiterate corrupt politicians who are more interested in having houses in South Delhi, than allowing the lungs of Delhi to function properly.
    Delhi-ites, do I have to do your thinking for you? Which is the administration which has given permission for these trees to be cut? That is the one which is corrupt. Target it. Or are you going to do what you do best, just take out a candle and sit down mourning the death of a tree.
    Some glib spokesman said that he was going to plant more trees, to replace the trees that were cut down.
    This is quite as much as saying, you know we have 14,500 human beings in Delhi, and it is getting overpopulated, and we need space to put up our buildings, which our fatcat government officials can use to live in, and after we have killed those fully grown trees planted in British times, then we are going to bother about whether little babies are born in Delhi or not.
    When the whole world is planting trees and increasing our green cover, the politicians of Delhi are cutting down trees, because environment is a word which they Cannot spell, when somebody is handing them a large percentage of money to pass the files for the cutting of Delhi’s green lungs , thus causing the mass death of the people living there through choking and pollution.
    Any BJP leader saying that the felling of trees is inevitable is a corrupt leader.How much has he been fed by property dealers to tell the press that cutting trees is justified to build a concrete jungle in the middle of Delhi, and destroy the green cover which is keeping Delhi alive? But then when we are ruled by idiots, for whom sabse bada Rupaiya is everything, the trees are going to be cut down one time or the other, with the complicity of the forest department.
    How dare somebody say that trees are not going to be cut down before July 4. What right have they to do something illegal?but when politicians are behind them, this sort of sikka shahi is inevitable.
    A decade ago some politicians entered into a contract to cut trees in the Army Cantonment area at Dhaula Kuan to sell the land to property dealers. That night the woodcutters came, and disappeared never to be seen again. Their clothes were found by the side of the road with a message – entering our area, considered enemies. Cremate these clothes.

    Do not politicize the situation. The union for Housing and urban affairs minister is an illiterate nitwit. He has absolutely no idea of the long-term repercussions of this action on Delhi.

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