Forest department under-reports trees 'pruned' in city forest area, Ghaziabad
Two days ago, the GDA conducted a pruning drive in the city forest area on the bank of Hindon river in Ghaziabad. Range forest officer Navratan Singh pegged the total number of trees pruned at 98 — of which, 80 were pruned while 18 were badly damaged. When City Spidey reached the spot, it found over a thousand trees harmed by the pruning routine. In fact, environmentalists are of the opinion that the trees have been, for all practical purposes, felled and not pruned as the GDA claims.
Ruchin Mehra, an environmentalist, accompanied City Spidey to the site. Flabbergasted at the extent of harm done, he said, “I thought maybe it was 300 to 400 trees, but never imagined that numbers to be this!”
Spread over 150 acres, city forest has multiple pockets consisting of hundreds of trees in each. In just one single pocket, more than 200 trees were found pruned.
An anguished Mehra while pointing towards an empty nest between two thick branches of a tree said, “These dense canopies served as home for birds. But now, everything has been destroyed.”
When City Spidey confronted Singh with the devastating numbers, he replied rather nonchalantly, “Not all cutting of branches come under pruning. However, we look into the numbers again.”
Divisional forest officer Diksha Bhandari said she would respond to the queries only after going through the report of Singh, who’s the investigation officer in the case.
While investigating the site, City Spidey also found that quite a large number of trees bore signs of pruning that could have had happened 2-3 weeks ago.
When City Spidey posed the question to AR Rahi, horticulture in-charge, GDA, he said, “Pruning keeps happening at regular intervals — and permission is not sought for doing so.”
Noted environmentalist and policy analyst at Protection of Environment and Biodiversity, Aakash Vashishtha, said, “Ruchin, me and a few other environmentalists have filed an application at the DFO’s office to re-investigate the case and survey the spot in our presence.”
“If they fail to do so, we will move the National Green Tribunal against the forest department and the GDA,” Vashishtha added.
When City Spidey reached out to chief conservator Lalit Verma for comments on the under-reporting by range officer — who had in the first place booked the GDA under section 4/10 of the UP Tree Protection Act — he asked the team to file a written complaint with the GDA, and also forward it to the DFO.