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Issue 48
, 2014
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The smothering green

Source: Toxics Link, Date: , 2014

The swathe of green canopies and wilderness which soothed the city in the scorching summers, the green foliage which appended the ecstatic beauty of the city, the green lungs which purified the noxious air, the Delhi ridge which once stood as an exemplary dense woodland and a habitat to innumerable birds, species and insects, stands precariously endangered today. Entrapped in a hapless twirl of fate, the city today is a taciturn witness to the conflict between what once stood as a green city to what is becoming a concrete.

Delhi lauds at being one of the greenest capital cities across the world and the Forest Department explicitly claims that Delhi’s green cover has doubled in a decade from 151 sq km in 2001 to 296 sq km in 2011, with the efforts on for maintaining it. Much to the dismay, the city is rather an onlooker to dwindling trees and the green canopies. Delhi has transformed from being the green capital to being a concrete jungle in less than a decade. Even the City’s natural Heritage – The Delhi Ridge is being slaughtered at the altar of the much deemed development projects and initiatives.

Delhi today is exploding into a megacity with leaping strides. Increasing population demands, development & urbanization is posing pressure on the green cover. With Development and infrastructure projects, construction activities, roads, fly-overs, metros and shopping malls, transport corridors, taking  precedence; the trees are increasingly falling prey to the unbridled urbanization unfolding across the city. With development projects comes chopping, felling and tiling of trees thus choking it. With marketing comes nailing of trees with advertisements and with winters comes the clamor over ruthless pruning of trees. Concretization and tiling around trees to make pavements limits the surface soil for trees to grow & thus weakens their root system. The problem is also abounded by strangulating trees by Metal tree guards etc.

The only green forest of Delhi- the Ridge has shrunk to little pockets. The Ridge is being swallowed in chunks; encroachment is becoming rife on behest of the powerful commercial lobbies and those in the authority. The custodians themselves are eagle eying the ridge for various infrastructure projects. The  area is being lost to magnificent farmhouses and sprawling bungalows, schools, places of worship, petrol pumps, hotel complexes ,widening of roads and metro tracks. 

Despite the presence of an array of authorities; their initiatives and the guardians of forests like the Tree Authority; The Ministry of Environment and Forest; Horticulture Departments and the various greening plans, Delhi is heading towards becoming a merely treeless landscape. The city today is a silent spectator to the intensifying menace and gratuitous destruction. There is a need to provide some space to the wheezing green lungs of Delhi. Development is vital but what is required is sustainable development rather than mindless development which is plaguing our planet today. We need to understand, the price at which these developments are being served on our platter.

--Prashanti Tiwari