The Delhi Government organised a mega-plantation drive on Tuesday targeting an increase in green cover to effectively reduce pollution in the city. Leading from the front, CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal attended the drive that saw the plantation of 20,000 saplings at Bela Farm in Shastri Park under the Green Action Plan, 2023. Environment Minister Shri Gopal Rai was also present at the event and lauded the citizens of Delhi for their success in achieving the plantation target last year.
The Green Action Plan, 2023 is a comprehensive strategy aimed at conclusively addressing environmental challenges and promoting overall growth. It helps create a future where we prioritise the well-being of our country, our people and our economy. This scheme is a collective effort to reduce carbon emissions, conserve natural resources and promote environment-friendly practices.
Shri Arvind Kejriwal informed the people gathered at the event that last year the Delhi Government had a target of planting 42 lakh saplings and it went on to exceed its target by planting 45 lakh saplings. He further added that this year the Delhi Government has further increased its target to 52 lakh saplings and it was to fulfil this target in the year that the state government was launching this initiative today.
The Delhi CM said that it is usually just before the monsoon season that the Delhi Government begins its plantation drive, but this year, as the target was ambitious, it did not want to waste any time and decided to begin the campaign earlier than usual. Shri Arvind Kejriwal thanked the people of Delhi for coming out in large numbers last year and making the drive successful and he hoped that the people would work even harder this year as the target was more ambitious.
The Delhi CM provided some data to highlight the result that a successful drive in the previous years had given the city. He said that earlier Delhi was always in the list of the 10 most polluted cities in the world. But thanks to the work done by the government and the people of Delhi over the last 7-8 years, it is now out of this infamous list. Although this is a matter of happiness, he added that the aim of the state government is to eventually have Delhi in the list of 10 most clean cities in the world.
Shri Arvind Kejriwal further added that in 2011, Delhi had a tree cover of 20 per cent. This has now increased to 23 per cent. To give this fact some context, he said that people might wonder what a 3 percent increase may mean. But in a holistic manner this is a great achievement as in all other major cities of the world, the tree cover has been decreasing as the city further urbanises. Although Delhi is also urbanising further, here the state government plants 10 saplings if it needs to cut one tree for any developmental project. The CM said that this is the reason the tree cover in Delhi is on the rise. He also said that 80 per cent of the plants that are planted as part of this drive in Delhi have survived and that is the reason the tree cover has increased.
The CM provided some more data and said that in 2015, the green cover in Delhi occupied a space of 299 sq kms, this has further increased to 342 sq kms now. So, in the last eight years, the people of Delhi have together increased this space by 43 sq km.
Another key data highlights that in Delhi the tree cover per person is the highest among Indian cities. In Delhi, this statistic is 9.6 sq metre area per person. In Hyderabad it is 8.2 sq metre area, in Bengaluru this is 7.2 and in Mumbai it is 5.4. The CM further added that in Chennai it is 2.1 and in Kolkata it is only 0.1.
Shri Arvind Kejriwal also highlighted the other initiatives of the Delhi Government to curb pollution in the city and said that since the AAP government was formed in Delhi in 2015, there has been a reduction of 30 percent pollution in the city. In 2015, the average PM 10 was 325, this has further dropped to 225. In 2015, the average PM 2.5 in Delhi was 150, and this has now reduced to 100. This is a 30 percent reduction.
Besides this, the Delhi Government has also introduced electric buses in public transport in large numbers and also banned pollution fuel that is used in industries. In the next couple of months, the government’s focus is on reducing dust that we have on our streets. The Delhi Government is using Mechanical Road Sweeping & Dust Sucking Machines to clean the roads. The CM added that the state government will be cleaning not just the roads but the footpath and the plants that you see on dividers. This will go a long way in curbing pollution in the city, he said.
The Delhi Government derives its support from the people and the Chief Minister said that he was very happy to see the people come out in such large numbers for this initiative. He added that 20,000 saplings will be planted in this area in a single day and thanked the people for their participation in the event.
The CM also said that the 20,000 trees that are being planted here today are composed of many unique species, which provide food, shelter, medicine and many other benefits to our lives. Some notable plant species being planted today include Arjuna, Sheesham, Jamun, Gular or Clustered Fig, Lagerstroaemia, Kadam, Kathal or Jackfruit, Gulmohar, Amaltas, Banyan, Peepal and Moulsari.
Speaking at the ceremonial function, Environment Minister Shri Gopal Rai highlighted the government’s efforts to spread awareness about tree plantation among children through the Eco Club. He praised the people of Delhi for their tireless efforts, which resulted in the city’s removal from the list of 10 most polluted cities in the world. Despite the prevailing challenges, the CM Arvind Kejriwal-led government remains committed to serving the public interest, he said.
Shri Gopal Rai emphasised the government’s resolve to face all obstacles head-on and to continue working with double strength for the people of Delhi. In the 10 guarantees made by Shri Arvind Kejriwal during the assembly elections, the planting of two crore saplings to increase the green cover of Delhi was a prominent promise. The government has set a target of planting 52 lakh saplings this year, moving closer to achieving this ambitious goal.
Shri Gopal Rai called upon the cooperation of the people of Delhi in fulfilling the promise of planting two crore saplings. He acknowledged the critical role of the public in making Delhi a cleaner and greener city. The government remains committed to its work, and with the support of the people, it will continue to strive towards a healthier and more sustainable future for Delhi.