The root of the problem
The root of the problem
Akhilesh Pandey
The root of the problem
Photo: Akhilesh Pandey
The root of the problem

Crass negligence on the part of the Delhi Development Authority has left more than 50 trees concretised in a stretch of a kilometre between the police chowki of Sector 3 and the Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology campus in Sector 3, Dwarka.  

According to the locals, in 2014, the DDA had concretised the root necks of the trees during the re-carpeting of the road. City Spidey visited the area and found that the tree necks were indeed completely covered with stones and bitumen.

A tree that dried up after being concretised

Environmental activists have found the matter deeply disconcerting. Diwan Singh, one of the frontrunners of the campaign to save the water bodies in the city, and a resident of Shaman Vihar Apartments Sector 23, explains, “The compactness of soil that happens due to concretisation inhibits the growth of feeding roots and ultimately results in root mortality. A tree that has been concretised is like an elephant that has been chained at its feet. Its impact is debilitating and the tree will fall prematurely one day. This must not be allowed to happen. If a negligent engineer does, strong disciplinary action must be taken. ”

Echoing similar views, Mukesh Singh, a resident of Highland Apartments, Sector 12, and a nature lover, iterates, “This is utter negligence on the part of contractors and lower-level DDA staff. It has been often found that in such cases people till the rank of junior engineers are responsible. Actions must be taken against them.”

In 2014, according to official data, about 350 trees were uprooted after the city was struck by a storm. It spelt disaster for the city’s greenery and ecological balance. Environmentalists found that concretisation of the necks and roots of the trees, which left them weakened at the base, was responsible for the damage. Yet, the authorities continued unabated.

It has become a common sight across the sub-city

City Spidey contacted the DDA horticulture officials. One official said, “It happened owing to the negligence of the civil department. We have written to the higher officials to do whatever is required to remedy the situation. We have taken cognizance of the situation, and will initiate something urgently.”

Speaking on tree-related laws, he elaborates, “According to guidelines, every tree must be left with some breathing space in the National Capital by keeping a circumference of 6 feet around it concrete-free. Both the National Green Tribunal and the Delhi High Court have laid out these stipulations, but we are not serious about it at all.”

He further adds, “The Delhi High Court had asked for a written undertaking from all civic agencies in Delhi mentioning that the space around the trees would be kept free from concrete. In 2013, the National Green Tribunal issued notices to 14 authorities, directing them to remove all boards and advertisements and de-concretise the space. The Delhi High Court, in 2007 and 2010, had issued similar orders to follow urban greening guidelines. Urban greening guidelines for 2014 mention that tree roots should be protected and top soil must be preserved during execution of civic works. So many a times, orders were issue but they were always violated.”

Awareness is the need of the hour, feels Ramesh Mumukshu, an RTI and environmental activist from Sector 16. He says, “The community and the agencies responsible for building and maintaining the infrastructure must be made aware. Information and related laws must be displayed prominently on boards at places where work is supposed to begin. Both the concerned authorities and communities should be aware of the environmental laws.”