New Delhi, June 23 (IANS) To save about 16,500 fully grown trees from being chopped down in the city, locals and social organisations have come together to hold a campaign on the lines of ‘Chipko’ movement for tree protection here on Sunday.
According to official sources, while 3,000 trees have already been cut down since last year in south Delhi area, the Central government-run construction company NBCC will chop an additional 16,500 trees in Sarojini Nagar and Nauroji Nagar areas to construct flats for Central government employees.
Opposing this project, locals and activists have decided to initiate a ‘Chipko movement in Delhi’ and hug the trees at 4.30 p.m. on Sunday in Sarojini Nagar to express their protest.
“Delhi is already so much polluted and on this cutting 16,500 trees that too in the area with best of Delhi’s green cover to construct a colony and market area is a very dangerous decision. That’s why we had decided to protest by hugging the trees there,” environment and RTI activist Vikrant Tongad told IANS.
Pointing out how key ministers have reiterated that environment and development can go hand in hand, he said that there are alternatives to chopping trees and construction at the same location.
Activist Chhavi Methi said: “We will rally outside the Sarojini Nagar police station on Sunday at about 4.30 p.m. and hug the trees as an act of protest.”
Meanwhile, Delhi Forest Department has already cleared the project, an official told IANS, while a senior Union Environment Ministry official said the Central government has nothing to do with the tree chopping as the permission to do so falls under the Delhi government.
However, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj, in a tweet, said that the Union Environment Ministry has given the permission to cut the trees. The AAP has also extended support to the protests scheduled on Sunday.
Officials at Delhi Forest Department could not be reached despite several attempts.
The officials of NBCC, which comes under the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, however clarified that there will be more plantation to compensate for the trees being cut down.
“Yes, trees are planned to be cut off but NBCC has also planned to do ten times more plantation in the region. Our CMD, Anup Kumar Mittal, will talk about it on Monday,” NBCC spokesperson Sameer Bhattacharya told IANS.