Delhi’s forest area disappearing very fast, HC told

New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) The Delhi High Court was on Wednesday told that the forest areas in the national capital were “disappearing very fast” due to rampant encroachment.

A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva was further informed by amicus curiae Kailash Vasudev, who was assisting the court in a suo moto case on air pollution in city, that Delhi is left with green cover of 20.8 percent while the master plan 2021 requires it to be 30 percent.

“Forest areas in capital was disappearing very fast due to rampant encroachment. One of the reasons was there is no demarcation on land and secondly there is lack of political and bureaucratic will,” said Vasudev.

The bench asked for a survey of actual area forest area in the capital and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks.

During the hearing, the court also directed the Delhi Traffic Police to challan people driving in wrong carriage way for dangerous driving under Section 279 of Indian Penal Code.

It directed the special commissioner of police (traffic) to personally look into the compliance of the court’s directions on regulating vehicular movement on roads and carriage way.

“You can’t imagine how frustrating it is for a high court judge to pass an order regarding traffic congestion in Delhi and later see it not being complied with,” the bench said.

It also said there has to be some thinking in the traffic department about the management and regulation of traffic congestion in Delhi as it has “gone out of hand”.

Delhi was burning fuel worth billions of rupees due to traffic congestion and idling of vehicles which also contributes to air pollution, the bench observed.

During the hearing, the chief forest conservator (CFC), Delhi told the court that old trees emit more carbon dioxide than oxygen and thus they have to be replaced with new ones in a planned manner.

Hearing the submission, the court asked whether CFC’s statement was based on “scientific info” as it was contrary to popular notion. “If government has to cut a tree, it has to plan at least 40 years ahead so that a replacement of trees is there,” the conservator told the bench.

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