‘We aim to in­crease the green cover of Delhi from 20% to at least 25%’

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Estates - - ESTATES - Nam­rata Kohli let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

In the back­drop of Chipko move­ment by cit­i­zens of Delhi against tree felling dur­ing re­de­vel­op­ment of seven South Delhi colonies, the gov­ern­ment has gone on an aggressive tree plan­ta­tion spree.

The gov­ern­ment says “cit­i­zens’ con­cern has been taken very se­ri­ously” and they are plant­ing over 10 lakh trees “this mon­soon sea­son which inar­guably the best time to sow the seed for green Delhi”. Nam­rata Kohli caught up with Durga Shanker Mishra, Sec­re­tary, Min­istry of Hous­ing and Ur­ban Af­fairs on the side­lines of a tree plan­ta­tion event called ‘Harit Ma­hot­sav’ at New Moti Bagh, one of the re­de­vel­oped colonies.

There was pub­lic out­rage at ‘tree felling’ dur­ing re­de­vel­op­ment of cer­tain colonies. The Delhi High Court put a stay and ques­tioned the move of felling over 16,500 trees for the re­de­vel­op­ment project. Where do mat­ters stand now?

The cit­i­zens’ con­cern has been taken very se­ri­ously by the gov­ern­ment and we are tak­ing it in the pos­i­tive spirit. We are com­mit­ted to make our city green and the Min­istry’s stand is very clear on this – No big trees will be cut. There are many trees which have been saved and will con­tinue be saved with proper ur­ban plan­ning. We are fo­cus­ing on pre­serv­ing our trees by a three pronged ap­proach- one, the whole lay­out plan­ning is such that the trees which are very old and huge will be re­tained. Two, those trees that can be re­planted will be taken out from its root and planted

PEO­PLE HAVE BEEN MOV­ING TO METROS IN SEARCH OF JOBS AND THE TREND WILL CON­TINUE WELL INTO THE FU­TURE

else­where. Luck­ily in to­day’s times, such tech­nol­ogy is avail­able that we can take ben­e­fit from it. Thirdly, we are go­ing for aggressive af­foresta­tion and a clear ex­am­ple of it is East Kid­wai Na­gar colony, where 7,647 trees have al­ready been planted as part of the re­plan­ta­tion drive post com­ple­tion of construction and an­other 2000 shall be planted this mon­soon sea­son.

Is de­for­esta­tion jus­ti­fied if there is af­foresta­tion else­where?

Land is limited and we have to ac­com­mo­date the peo­ple in the city. The ques­tion is do we want planned de­vel­op­ment or scat­tered de­vel­op­ment. Ur­ban­iza­tion is to­days’ re­al­ity and there is no mech­a­nism to stop mi­gra- tion. We are setting model ex­am­ple for re­de­vel­op­ment and do­ing ev­ery­thing to cre­ate new ur­ban spa­ces needs that are green and re­silient.

Go­ing for­ward how do you plan to strike a bal­ance be­tween growth and de­vel­op­ment on the one hand and ecol­ogy and en­vi­ron­ment on the other?

Ur­ban­iza­tion is bound to hap­pen. Peo­ple have been mov­ing to metros in search of jobs and the trend will con­tinue well into the fu­ture. So it’s a re­al­ity and we must come to terms with it the soon as pos­si­ble. But trees are lungs of a city. We are show­ing the model lo­cal­i­ties of de­vel­op­ment when re­do­ing these colonies. The beauty of the whole re­de­vel­op­ment is when we started there was nearly 60% built up area and af­ter re­de­vel­op­ment, 30 per­cent area is built up area while we have man­aged to keep 70% open area for green­ery, wa­ter bod­ies etc which is a lot for any lo­cal­ity.

What is the tar­geted af­foresta­tion by the Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment Min­istry?

We will be plant­ing 10 lakh trees of 8-12 feet height dur­ing this very mon­soon sea­son. Dif­fer­ent state bod­ies such as NBCC is com­ing for­ward to plant 25,000 trees, CPWD and PWD 50,000, DMRC 20,000 and DDA will plant in lakhs.

What is the choice of trees be­ing planted?

Trees will com­prise fruit-bear­ing, flow­er­ing and other green trees. We are plant­ing trees which are not only or­na­men­tal but lo­cal in­dige­nous species such as Neem Ja­mun Ar­jun Peepal, Gul­mo­har, Amal­tash, Kadamb, Shee­sham etc. The trees are not saplings but grown up trees, up­wards of 5 feet each, ap­prox­i­mately 7 feet on­wards go­ing up to 12 feet. Mon­soon is the best sea­son for plant­ing and hence we are cap­i­tal­is­ing on a mas­sive mon­soon drive of plant­ing trees.

On an­other note, what are we do­ing to cre­ate counter mag­nates so that the pop­u­la­tion is evenly dis­trib­uted and our cities that breathe and live bet­ter and we have more space for green?

First let me tell you that we are not do­ing ur­ban­iza­tion. It is a nat­u­ral phe­nom­e­non where peo­ple are mi­grat­ing from ru­ral to ur­ban ar­eas in search for bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties for jobs, en­ter­tain­ment, busi­ness, ed­u­ca­tion… Cities are engines of growth. In­dia’s total ur­ban pop­u­la­tion as per 2011 cen­sus was around 38 crores and is pro­jected to grow to 60 crores by 2030 and over 80 crores by 2050.

That means by 2050, we will have mostly an ur­ban In­dia. The GoI and es­pe­cially Prime Min­is­ter’s clear think­ing is that we should take this ur­ban­iza­tion as an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture and boost the econ­omy. Hence a se­ries of schemes such as swachch bharat mission, hous­ing for all, Am­rut scheme, smart cities have been launched as light­houses for fu­ture ur­ban de­vel­op­ment.

But at the same time, un­der Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion Plan­ning Board (NCRPB), ef­forts are on for the har­mo­nious de­vel­op­ment of the satel­lite towns and we have come up with a re­gional rapid tran­sit sys­tem

MINT/FILE

Govt will be plant­ing over 10 lakh trees this mon­soon sea­sont

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