Sarvodaya Enclave Lost 143 Trees in 7 Years, Delhi Forest Department Says | Latest Delhi News
An inspection by the state forest and wildlife department in the Sarvodaya enclave in south Delhi found that 143 trees had ‘disappeared’ between 2012 and 2019, nearly double the original figure estimated 77 trees that residents and activists cited after a tree census over the two years. .
The inspection was carried out using a combination of satellite imagery and a physical census, following orders issued by the Delhi High Court on October 11 last year asking the department of Forests and Wildlife to take action within six weeks.
The inspection report revealed that the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and the Public Works Department (PWD) were the landowners and maintenance agencies responsible for the areas from which the trees had disappeared.
While the Forest Department recommended in its inspection report a fine of ₹1 lakh per tree for SDMC and PWD for each tree that has gone missing or been cut down illegally in their jurisdiction, besides being obliged to plant 10 saplings for each tree, the Delhi High Court will make a final decision on the matter January 19.
Amit Anand, the deputy conservator of forests (south), who was part of the inspection process, said the plot sheets for the 2012 and 2019 censuses were acquired from the NGO Compassionate Living, which was involved in the the initial count, in accordance with court orders. HT saw a copy of the inspection report.
According to the 2012 census, the Sarvodaya enclave had 787 trees, with this figure falling to 731 trees in 2019, despite the planting of 21 new trees. The plot sheets contained information about each street in the neighborhood, as well as tree characteristics, including species, girth, location, height, health, as well as soil and ground conditions.
“Field staff from the Southern Forestry Division verified the field sheets from the 2012 census report by conducting a physical re-census in the field and also using satellite imagery to facilitate the process. The field sheets of the two censuses [2012 and 2019] were acquired from said trust. The ground check revealed that instead of the previous number of 77 allegedly missing/allegedly felled trees according to a complaint dated December 8, 2020, 143 trees were found missing from the site,” the inspection report stated, which found 94 missing trees on land under the civic body of South Delhi and 32 trees under the jurisdiction of PWD. The others were part of private properties.
Missing tree species include Gular, Amaltas, Shahtoot, Ashok, Gulmohar, Peepal, Harsingar, Belpatra, Champa and Kadi patta species.
Last year, the HC ordered the South Delhi city body to clear the trees of Vasant Vihar from concrete. HT in December 2020 reported that of the 4,993 trees in the streets of Vasant Vihar, 3,859 were strongly concretized. A tree census conducted by local residents showed that more than 450 trees had nails, tree guards, barbed wire in or around them, 764 trees were cut and at least 793 trees were infested with termites.
The report also says that at the first High Court hearing on December 9 last year, SDMC and PWD failed to submit affidavits regarding the missing trees, after which each agency was given a further seven days to submit. the details.
Separate notices were again sent to the Horticultural Directors of SDMC and PWD on December 24, with the list of missing trees. However, in his report, Anand said that none of the agencies were able to justify the disappearance of the trees.
The report says that at a hearing on December 30, the PWD officer appearing for the department was “completely unaware” of the missing trees and was given 15 days to submit a list of all civil works carried out in areas where trees have disappeared. Failure to do so, the Delhi high court said, will result in a fine of ₹1 lakh per tree, plus instructions for planting 10 trees for each one missing.
The Delhi High Court will hold a final hearing in the case on January 19.
Similarly for the SDMC, a submission made to the Department of Forestry and Wildlife said that between 2011 and 2019, the civic agency received 28 calls about trees hit or fallen due to rain. Of these, three have been marked as “dangerous” trees. The Forest Department said in its report that no permission was sought to cut down the three dangerous trees, which is another violation of Delhi’s Tree Preservation Act 1994.
The inspection report indicates that the civic body also does not know the current condition of these trees.
During this period, the SDMC also received 13 letters requesting permission to cut or prune trees, but the report says the southern company has not yet provided details on the condition of the trees. A similar fine of ₹1 lakh per tree has been recommended.
“It is needless to remind the relevant SDMC officials that in the event that no specific information is submitted on the duly sworn affidavit containing their submission with respect to the list of missing/illegally felled trees, it will be presumed that the SDMC that the SDMC has no representations to make and the matter would proceed according to law. In addition, a fine of ₹1 lakh per tree will be imposed, along with an instruction to plant 10 trees for each missing/illegally felled tree,” the order reads.
Bhavreen Kandhari, an environmental activist, who filed the initial complaint to the Forest and Wildlife Department in December 2020 and a subsequent complaint to the Delhi High Court, says the 143 missing trees is a figure linked to a single neighborhood of Delhi, with problems occurring across the city. “Trees are disappearing and it is only when public citizens take action and carry out a census on their own that we discover the problem. It also shows how satellite imagery can be used to uncover missing trees,” says Kandhari.
Padmavati Dwivedi, an activist who conducted the original 2012 and 2019 tree counts in the neighborhood, said even more trees may have been lost in the years after the second count.
“The second census started in 2016 and we were able to complete it at the end of 2017. At the time this census report came out in 2018 and 2019, we still had relatively older data. If we take into account the years after the second count and do a third count now, we will find that even more trees would have disappeared. she said.