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Issue 44
, 2013
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Public Lecture On “Delhi’s Dying Trees?”

By: Toxics Link, Source: Toxics Link, Date: , 2013

Delhi has transformed from being a green capital to being a concrete jungle in less than a decade. In a short time, tens of thousands of trees have been chopped down for roads, flyovers, the Metro, the Commonwealth Games, and new constructions. Those remaining have been imprisoned in concrete pavements, or their branches chopped off so brutally that they are now stark looking and stump like.


It is in this light that Toxics Link in collaboration with the India International Centre organized a Public Lecture on “Delhi’s Dying Trees?” at India International Centre on 15TH May 2013. The discussion was preceded by a short film titled “Last Words of a Dying Tree” by Avinash Kumar Singh & Geetha Singh.


The panel included eminent speakers like Mr. A. K. Shukla (IFS, Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden, Forest Department); Pradip Krishen(Film Maker & Environmentalist); Padmavati Dwivedi (Founder, Compassionate Living) while the discussion was moderated by Mr. Ravi Agarwal (Director, Toxics Link).


Ravi Agarwal opened the discussion by expressing concern on how the development projects are axing huge number of trees and there is not enough space to replant them. There is rich forest but how well it is preserved is a big question. The city today stands a witness to a conflict between what once stood as a green city to what Delhi is becoming as a concrete city, he added. He further said that there is a need to contemplate on the role the institutions play in this.


Discussing the changing scenario of Delhi the city is taking leaping strides as far as development is concerned with monumental increase in metros, fly-overs and multi-storied buildings Dr. A. K. Shukla pointed that this required a plan which integrates both greenery and development. The increasing population demands development & urbanization posing pressure on the green cover. Although the department is doing the required plantation it cannot ensure that they are provided with land, he added.


He further briefed on how the trees are being misused and the reasons behind the dying trees, which includes Concretization and tiling around trees to make pavements thus limiting surface soil for trees to grow & weakening root system. Also, trees are strangulated by Metal tree guards which in turn limits the growth of the trees after a certain point, at times choking it.


He further touched on the actions taken by the government he said that guidelines have been laid and implemented by the Tree Authority) regarding de-concretization, removal of tree guards and nailed advertisements.


Pradip Krishen explained that there are areas in the city where much plantation cannot be done, while there are areas where a lot can be done for instance the ridge. Yet the forest department is not taking any initiative to improve the habitat in a place like Ridge forest. 


Briefing on the kinds of trees appropriate for the city, he emphasized that native trees and native flora need to be planted. There is a need to understand what is native and to look for seeds of those plants, grow and then nurture them.


He further noted that ‘plantation cannot be done on the dry rocky land’, is a mistaken perception. Mangar Bani, for instance, is one of the most beautiful forests which are actually thriving on a Gair Mumkin land.


Expressing her concern on the fact that the city does not have any green plan for the next fifty years, Ms. Padmavati said that despite huge number of trees being axed there are no efforts to reforest the area. Once a tree is gone nobody plans to plant it anymore, she added. She further attributed the dwindling green cover of the city to unplanned development and urbanization and pointed need for the government to come up with a green vision.


The lecture was followed by an interactive question answers session where some raised some pertinent questions and concerns were raised.