Reeling under a pollution crisis, the National Capital, Delhi has lost around 112,169 trees since 2005, a data released by Delhi government shows. At least one tree felled in Delhi every hour for the last 13 years. The data shared by the Delhi government shows that the maximum number of trees felled between 2005 and 2010 as the city prepared to host for 2010 Commonwealth Games. In this period, maximum trees were cut by Delhi government’s public works department (PWD), followed by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and the Railways.
While the PWD chopped off 15,762 trees, DMRC cut 15,276 trees, followed by Railways which cut 6,388 trees during the five-year period.
Recently, a proposal made to cut 14,000 trees had triggered citizens’ protests and a series of litigations. As per a Hindustan Times report, the government has accepted most requests to cut trees in the past five years. Environmentalists allege that the given numbers are only government data and the original figure must be much higher.
Aditya Prasad, an advocate fighting a case against Vikaspuri elevated corridor project which seeks to cut 800 trees, told HT that there is no estimation on the number of trees which would have felled illegally.
Environmentalists allege that Delhi Tree Authority is not doing enough. As per a 2018 Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report, the DTA has met only once in the past three years.
An emergency-like situation had erupted in Delhi after it was hit by a severe air pollution crisis last year. The government had declared a holiday in schools and public institutions. The pollution was attributed to the residue created after crop-burning. However, the scarcity of greenery due to rapid industrial development was also cited as one of the reasons for air pollution.