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Delhi’s green brigade achieves major success

By Satyen Mohapatra

June 28, 2018
New Delhi:Delhi’s green brigade achieved a major success on Monday following the High Court upholding its appeal and putting an instant stop to tree felling in the capital for the NBCC mega government officers housing and commercial project till July 4.
The Delhi Court has asked authorities to wait for the decision of the National Green Tribunal which will hear a petition on the matter on July.1.
For past several days the capital has witnessed spontaneous eruption of citizens anger against the proposed cutting several thousand trees for the project which they equated with ripping off Delhis green lung. With pollution statistics in the capital already going skyward the activists were not ready to allow felling of even one tree.
From signature campaigns, embracing trees like Sunderlal Bahugun Chipko movement to candle light march, people belonging to different age groups including women and children demonstrated their strong protest .
The Court wanted to know who had ordered the felling of trees which issue itself is embroiled in political controversy with incumbent AAP government putting the blame on the Centre and the Centre shrugging off stating that tree cutting was under the state government. Union Environment and Forest Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan is on record stating that as there were no forests in Delhi his Ministry was not involved in the matter.
Senior members of the AAP party have also joined the bandwagon taking advantage of the protests to hit out at the Lt Governor . Their argument is that the Lt Governor had ordered the felling despite AAP Minister’s objections does not hold water because it is the AAP government which had sent the file to the Lt .Governor for approval who had just concurred, sources at Raj Niwas pointed out.
With the whole matter being politicised no easy solution seems to be in sight as it brings the whole question of Man versus Nature to the fore.
NBCC (India) Limited, formerly known as National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd., a blue-chip Government of India Navratna Enterprise under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, which has taken up the redevelopment project . has pointed out the legitimacy and need for the project looking at the acute shortage of government housing with large number of government servants in the waiting for years.
According to sources in the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry , the total housing availability in the existing GPRA (General Pool Residential Accomodation) colonies in the city is 60,278 while the demand is a stupendous 74,873 making a clear shortage of 14,595 houses.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs planned to redevelop seven of the existing GPRA colonies with a view to utilize the existing land resources in a most efficient manner and handed over the implementation to NBCC and CPWD.
According to NBCC sources the total houses available in the seven GPRA colonies is 12,970 including large number of old deserted and dilapidated ones.
The NBCC now plans to meet the housing shortage by building 25,667 houses of which 25 per cent are to be built by CPWD. The NBCC is to re develop Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar and Sarojini Nagar and CPWD is to re develop Mohammadpur, Srinivaspuri, Kasturba Nagar and Tyagraj Nagar.
This would however not totally meet the shortage because 12,000 houses will be built after breaking down the old dilapidated ones and only 13,000 new houses will be built. There were still remain a shortage of 1,595 houses.
The project was to be financed through sale of commercial built up area in Nauroji Nagar and part of Sarojini Nagar which is being developed as a state-of the-art commercial hub in a plot area of 25 acres with all modern facilities and well-designed façade.
The whole redevelopment project now faces a new challenge in the form of collateral damage caused by the project requiring cutting down full grown trees to make space for housing and other infrastructure.
The NBCC today holds permission for tree cutting given by the Delhi government for Nauroji Nagar (1465 trees) and Netaji Nagar (2294 trees) . NBCC sources say that they have already cut 1465 trees in Nauroji Nagar.
The total number of trees to be cut down for the project is 14,031.
According to NBCC sources by meticulous urban planning circumventing trees they were able to save the cutting of 7,000 trees of the original 14,031.
Secondly from the 7,031 trees to be cut 1,213 full grown trees are to be transplanted using sophisticated technology with higher living ratio.
This would reduce the total number of trees to be cut in the seven colonies to only 5,800.
The NBCC is also assuring to replant not saplings but 15,428 nearly 8-12 feet high trees in these seven colonies during the redevelopment process.
While at present the seven colonies have around 21,040 trees after re development the number of trees will be around 23,475 trees.
As Delhi state has mandated a ratio of 1 : 10 for replantation of cut trees , the NBCC has also promised to plant 1,40,310 saplings throughout Delhi .