Recently, for a redevelopment project in Delhi, nearly 4,800 trees were cut and only 2,000 have been planted as ‘compensation’. The target was to plant 48,000 trees. This raises a question on the compensatory tree plantation drive in the national capital.
Firstly, cutting down any tree cannot be compensated by planting even 1,000 trees; the tree which is being cut is a full grown tree and the trees which will be planted will be small.
Secondly, according to ecologist C R Babu, the technology to transplant trees does not always work, noted an Indian Express report. The report further noted that transplanting full-grown trees can cause stress and shock. Babu noted that the chance of survival for old trees is 50-50, and it takes a minimum of 10 years to grow a full canopy.
Thirdly, compensatory tree plantation will need a strong plan of implementation which is never possible in Delhi because it is not a full state. Delhi has a number of different stakeholders responsible for tree plantation. 28 lakhs have been set aside by the National Capital Territory for greening agencies. The major heads and the approximate allotments are the Delhi Development Authority (given ₹10,00,000), the Forest Department (₹4,25,000), the Public Works Department (₹2,75,000) and the Directorate of Education (₹1,25,000 approx).
The leading AAP government has alleged that the Delhi Development Authority has not provided lands for the compensatory plantation.
However, the DDA rubbished the claims and observed that they have finalized the lands but the Delhi government has not started any work.
Now, a report published in Hindustan Times noted, “Over seven months after the Delhi government cleared the proposal to chop 1,465 trees for the redevelopment project in south Delhi’s Nauroji Nagar, the forest department is yet to get land to plant compensatory saplings in Garhi Mandu village in North Delhi. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA), however, claimed the land allotment letter had already been issued a year ago.”
The report further noted: “We do not want to indulge in a blame game. An allotment letter was given to the Forest Department in 2017 and we have already authorised them to start compensatory plantation at the site,” DDA vice-chairman Udai Pratap Singh said.
Recently for seven redevelopment projects, the Central government’s organization, NBCC, sought permission to cut 17,000 trees and claimed that they have received the permission from the Delhi government.
The Delhi government has denied such permission and the citizens observed week-long protest on the issue. Thereafter the Union Government has ordered the NBCC to stall the project.
In the city, there are a number of such tree-cutting projects going on. Recently in the Pragati Maidan area, nearly 1,713 trees were cut.
The compensatory plantation has not yet started and the government has again blamed the DDA for not providing land.
In the making of Delhi-Meerut Highway the authorities cut many trees but according to data, a successful compensatory plantation drive took place. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report, however, finds poor compensatory plantation. It noted that in the Capital, for the last eight years, the government never prepared the Green Delhi Action Plan.
“First Green Delhi Action Plan (GDAP) came into effect in the year 1997-98 to bring different agencies together for a coordinated approach to augment the pace of greening activities in Delhi,” noted the report by the CAG.
Studying all these points it is clear that the failed implementation procedure and plans of compensatory tree plantation is a distant dream in Delhi.