Delhi's 'Chipko movement': Thousands hug trees, say 'won't leave them'
Sarojini Nagar saw a lot of activity yesterday afternoon, as more than 1,500 people came out in unison to protest the cutting of a whopping 16,500 trees to make way for seven central government colonies. A couple of AAP leaders joined the protest as well. The Delhi HC, while hearing the matter today, questioned the move and stayed the matter till July 2.
Emulating the famous "Chipko-Movement", the protesters came out in unison, tied green ribbons around the trees and embraced them. Placards displaying messages like "We don't want a deserted Delhi", "Ban tree felling in Delhi", "Where's Delhi Tree Act" and "Even 1,000 saplings can't compensate one well-grown tree", were displayed. The activists said at least 10 people will be present at the protest-site from today.
"The Centre has given clearance to the project without considering vital factors, such as existing population density in the area and impact of cutting 16,500 trees on the ambient air quality in the area," asked Anil Sood, an advocate and petitioner in this case.
Couple of AAP leaders like Raghav Chadda, party spokesman Saurabh Bharadwaj and state environment and forest minister Imran Hussain joined the chorus. While Bharadwaj blamed the LG and the Union Government for this decision, Hussain tweeted 'urging the LG and minister Hardeep Singh Puri to not make this region a concrete jungle.' Meanwhile, Chadda said they'll approach the NGT and "oppose the redevelopment plan."
Interestingly, Delhi Forest Department, that's handled by Delhi Government has already okayed the project. Hence, the Central government has no role in this tree-chopping spree, informed a senior Union Environment Ministry official. "For the non-forest areas, local permissions are given by Delhi government," reiterated Harsh Vardhan, Union environment and forest minister. Meanwhile, officials said LG doesn't attest any proposal unless it's cleared by ministers.
Last week, Hardeep Puri, minister of state for housing affairs, said that this redevelopment will lead to increase in green coverage because of compensatory tree plantation that will be done in the ratio of 1:10. However, the residents are skeptical of the move. Meanwhile, NBCC MD Anoop Kumar Mittal informed that the trees to be chopped off are much fewer than what's being reported.
Initially, it was reported that 16,500 trees will be chopped off, but a ministry report clarified it is much fewer. In Sarojini Nagar, 8,322 of the 11,913 trees would be cut while Nauroji Nagar will see 1,465 of the 1,513 tress getting chopped off.