The TreesForDelhi Meeting (Check out the invitation) at the India International Center (IIC)’s Conference Room No. 1 presided by Mr. Ravi Agarwal (ToxicsLink), Mr. Mahesh Rangarajan (Ecological Historian and Political Commentator) and Mr. Prabhakar (Zakir Hussain College – Kalpavriksh) saw relatively thin audience.
The conference echoed the need to preserve the heritage and existing urban ecology of Delhi city and called for (infrastructural) development ‘around’ the green cover and not through it.
Mr. Prabhakar talked about the meeting with the Delhi CM and how issues such as “98 cars being added to the city everyday” are central even when no one realizes that the actual problem is that of better traffic management instead of simply widening the roads. A drive through any of the ‘congested’ roads at 9 PM and a drive through the same road at 11 PM is a completely different experience. At 9 PM, one has to drive bumper-to-bumper, while at 11 PM – on the same road one can even drive at 90 Kmph.
The panel also pointed the drawbacks of the compensatory afforestatin programme which has although worked in that trees are being planted but at places far away from where they have been cut. Moreover, the ten times tree plantation (for every tree cut) is such that the tree saplings are planted very close to each other and they will not survive for long. The cementing of the pavements and (in the process) ‘choking’ the trees was also discussed at the conference. The issue of the manner in which trees have been numbered was also raised.
The panel also made it clear that they are NOT against the High Capacity Bus System (HCBS) being planned for the city but are only trying to make sure that the trees around this corridor are not harmed. A cycle space has been allotted as one of the lanes alongside the HCBS corridor but after all the trees have been removed – one wonders who would like to cycle through those lanes in the heat of summer.
Also, the transportation system that is being designed is being designed after keeping in mind some world class cities – which, unlike Delhi have no history of trees!
The participants of the Conference also showed much concern over the indiscriminate cutting of trees. Diwan Singh of the Ridge Bahao Aandolan even raised the issue that soon the groundwater of the city will fall beyond imagination and that the city is fast approaching its carrying capacity.