‘We aim to increase the green cover of Delhi from 20% to at least 25%’
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
Govt will be planting over 10 lakh trees this monsoon seasont