NEW DELHI: The Delhi government has envisioned a grand plan under its new policy to promote tree preservation. Earlier this week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that he will very soon approve the ‘Tree Policy’ aimed at increasing the green cover in the rapidly growing city.
The draft Tree Policy, which was put in the public domain in February last year, has preservation and transplantation of trees at its core. The government had invited comments and suggestions from the public until April 2019.
According to officials, the key features of the policy will focus on the ‘Tree Preservation Plan’. Under this policy, scientific transplantation of all the affected trees, when on-site preservation of trees is not possible, shall be the new norm.
Also, 80 percent of the trees have to be transplanted to a new site and their survival has to be ensured for a year.
These are in addition to the existing rules of compensatory forestation for any construction activity in the national capital. Under the policy, the government is planning on people’s participation as a major component to protect the local ecology.
Hence, the Department of Forests and Wildlife will constitute local committees comprising of experts, citizen groups, RWAs, and others.
These committees, which could be formed three months after notification of tree policy, will be responsible to carry out regular monitoring of all projects regarding tree transplantation of more than 100 trees. To have more transparency in the process, the department of forests will have to detail and update records on its website every month on all applications for tree felling.
As tree transplantation is a task requiring specific technical expertise, the government will hire agencies to carry out the process for any project. This agency shall carry out all the works including a tree survey, geo-tagging of all the trees and conduct other assessments of a particular project’s impact on ecology.
However, environmental experts are unhappy with the government over the point of 80 per cent transplantation of grown trees.
“This clause has the potential to be used as an excuse by the government and others to fell trees. I believe the government should not make this as a standard practice as not all trees can sustain the ‘shock’ of transplantation,” said Manoj Mishra, an environmentalist.