The Chipko-like movement in Delhi reached its fifth consecutive day today. RWAs, environment activists, college students — everybody — joined hands to oppose the central government’s housing redevelopment scheme in South Delhi colonies, requiring felling of 14,000 trees.
The National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), which is to carry out the work, held a press conference today to address the issue. It was said during the press meet that the redevelopment would help increase green cover in the residential localities four-fold, from the current 14 per cent to 55 per cent.
Anoop Mittal, CMD NBCC, said, "Permission to cut the trees has been obtained from the Delhi government and other authorities. As many as 3,748 trees would be cut for redeveloping Naoroji Nagar and Netaji Nagar. In return, NBCC will plant 10,000 saplings in the same localities. Our redevelopment model is on display at New Moti Bagh, which shows green coverage of about 65 per cent, as against the barren land we had acquired."
He added, "There are a total of 12,970 flats as of now, which are several decades old and are 'unserviceable' now. After the redevelopment, the number of flats would be increased by 25,667, with an extensive green cover and organised parking facilities."
The six south Delhi colonies where the trees are to be felled include Sarojini Nagar, Naoroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Mohammadpur and Kasturba Nagar.
However, Delhi High Court has stayed the ban on tree felling till July 4.
The question about the survival of the city’s green cover soon turned into a blame game between the Centre and the AAP-led Delhi government.
Union minister Harsh Vardhan blamed the AAP government for permitting the cutting of trees in non-forest areas. However, AAP blamed Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and the Ministry of Environment and Forest for allowing the tree felling.
In fact, AAP joined hands with residents and lent its support to the campaign.
Here's what happened.
The proposal to cut trees in Naoroji Nagar was tabled in November 2017, for which the NBCC paid Rs 8,35,0500 as security deposit for creation and maintenance of compensatory plantation for a period of seven years.
Similarly, the NBCC has paid Rs 14,19,30000 to cut 3,906 grown-up trees in Netaji Nagar and the permission was given by the forest department of the Delhi government in April 23 this year.
A copy of approval accessed by City Spidey reads: “The applicant (NBCC) Delhi shall make an advance deposit of an amount of Rs 14,1930,000 towards security deposit for creation and maintenance of compensatory plantation for a period of seven years.”
The compensatory plantation of trees, the forest department assured, would be done in the ratio of 1:10, thereby resulting in an enhanced tree-coverage area.
But here’s the vital question… can the forest department allow the felling of 14,000 full-grown trees, which serves as the city’s lungs, in lieu of compensatory plantation?
Can the saplings compensate for trees that have been around for decades?