The 16,000 trees in Delhi’s seven government colonies, marked for cutting, have an extended reprieve till July 19 now. Yesterday, the National Green Tribunal, headed by acting chairperson, Justice Jawad Rahim, issued notices to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the contractor, NBCC, The Central Pollution Control Board, the CPWD, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation and others, asking them to file their reply by July 19 to the questions raised by petitioners.
Interestingly, the ministry and the contractor had opposed the hearing by NT on the plea that the matter was already in the High Court. The plea in the NGT was filed by an NGO – Society for Protection of Culture, Heritage, Environment, Traditions & Promotion of National Awareness, Green Circle and a city resident Utkarsh Bansal.
With the NGT effectively delivering a rebuke to the ministry and the contractor, the action now shifts to the possible responses from the alphabet soup of other agencies involved, although most, other than the state government, are controlled by the ruling party, the BJP.
Among the objections raised by the respondents so far has been a claim that the numbers are exaggerated, a point that they have made repeatedly, but considering the ‘error’ rate here, between 10-15% at most, we believe even this won’t be a good enough reason to contest the claim of mindless slaughter of trees and its impact on the environment.
The only solution that can work is a visible, concerted plan for tree plantation in Delhi, utilising spaces existing as well as barren lands. Besides a clearer long-term policy on managing its existing trees and continuously adding/replacing losses due to age and natural decay. That will mean major involvement of the city’s legion of active RWA’s and more, a prospect that seems to terrify the already struggling civic authorities. For the record, after a sharp downpour yesterday, the city was a picture of blocked drains, and flooded roads, pointing to the general ineptness and worse the residents have to put up with. On top of that come reports that even the city’s cremation grounds have not received a free wood from ANY city agency in the past year, raising serious questions about their intent too, besides ability.
Clearly, when it comes to Delhi’s trees, there is no truth, in life or the afterlife.
previous coverages of the issue: