The Aam Aadmi Party places great emphasis on Environmental protection and enhancement, and thus Delhi Government’s manifesto includes both protection and continuous expansion of green cover in the city.
Tree Transplantation Policy
In this direction, the AAP Delhi Government notified the country’s first ‘Tree Transplantation Policy’ in December 2020 and constituted a Tree Transplantation Cell. This measure is to ensure that trees in Delhi are pruned only when there is no other alternative. The transplantation policy is inclusive of afforestation.
Under the new policy, a minimum of 80 per cent of the trees affected by a development project shall be transplanted. It is now mandated to plant 10 saplings in place of each cut tree.
Tree Plantation Drives
Did you know Delhi has the highest green cover per capita among all 6 metros as of Oct 2019?
On July 10, 2020, the Environment Minister of Delhi, Mr. Gopal Rai launched the campaign, ‘Paudhe Lagao, Paryavaran Bachao’ (Plant Trees, Save Environment). In this campaign, 31 lakh saplings were planted across the capital. Some other plantation drives have also been organised.
Plantation drive inaugurated by Gopal Rai at Yamuna Bank near CWG village on 10 Jul 2020
(Source: Times of India Tweet)
For 2021, Delhi Government had aimed to plant 33 lakh saplings across the State.
- On 5th June 2021, Environment Minister Gopal Rai launched a plantation drive where citizens could pick up free saplings and medicinal plants from 14 government nurseries.
- Further a Van Mahotsav was organised between 26 June and 11 July 2021.
New Forest Areas
The Delhi Government has started developing new Forest Areas, which will have butterfly zones, water bodies, herbal patches, recreational-activity zones, walking tracks, gazebos, bridges for water bodies among others.
As per the Status Report of the Outcome Budget 2021-22, 5 City Forests are under development against the target of 6 City Forests during 2021-22 of which 60% of the work completed up to Dec 2021. 4.93 lakh saplings have been planted in forest areas up to Dec 2021, against the target of 6 lakh saplings for during 2021-22.
On 23 Mar 2022 Arvind Kejriwal directed to upgrade 17 city forests (at 17 different locations in Delhi, a total of around 3000 acres) into world-class level forests.
The rejuvenation of Delhi’s Central Ridge was launched on 26 Apr 2022. The plan was announced in 2021 to restore 423 hectares of the 864 hectares in five years. There have been differences of opinions among experts about removing the invasive Mexican trees ‘vilayati kikar’.
“In the initial phase of this experimental project, work will begin on 10 hectares of land. The department has set a target to plant local species of plants by eradicating the vilayati kikar (Prosopis juliflora) growing in Delhi. The exercise of removing the invasive tree species will be done by the canopy lifting method,” Environment Minister Gopal Rai said.
Delhi has the largest forest cover per capita amongst the mega-cities of the country at 9.6 square metres.
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More Scientific Tree Plantation
- The Delhi Seed Bank Project was launched in the Asola Bhati Wildlife Sanctuary on World Environment in June 2015 with the aim of bringing back the native trees of Delhi. First started as a butterfly park project, it extended into the Seed Bank Project when native trees that would attract butterflies were sparsely found. It was put together by Conservation Education Centre (CEC), an NGO under the Bombay Natural History Society, and Delhi, I Love You (DILY).
- In March 2021, the Delhi Forest Department inaugurated a nursery in the same Sanctuary to resurrect 22 native trees of Delhi which were fast disappearing. These native trees would thrive better in their local habitat thereby requiring less maintenance.
- Through these initiatives, the Delhi Forest Department plans to make tree plantation more scientific. It will conduct soil testing, to find out if the soil is alkaline or acidic and recommend saplings accordingly. Internal audits would throw light on the health of the saplings/trees. Seed walks conducted by the Conservation Education Centre would be open to the public and would encourage sapling planting and thereby increase the tree cover. Seed collection centres would be set up in all the three Forest Divisions. The Forest Department now has 60 seeds of indigenous species with them as on March 2022 and aimed at making this into 100 species.
- As per the Status Report of the Outcome Budget 2021-22, 2.11 lakh saplings have been planted outside the Asola Batti Wildlife sanctuary upto December 2021, against the target of 2 lakh saplings during 2021-22.
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