The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has written to the Union environment ministry, requesting it to allow compensatory afforestation (CA) for all projects undertaken in the city in the neighbouring states in view of a scarcity of land in the national capital.
The land-owning agency said the ministry should at least relax the guidelines issued under the Forest Conservation Act to allow compensatory afforestation for the projects implemented by the Centre and public sector undertakings (PSUs) on degraded forest land in the neighbouring states.
In its letter to the ministry, the DDA cited paragraph 2.3(v) of chapter 2 of the Handbook of Forest Conservation Act, which says: “In exceptional cases, where non-forest land/degraded forest land, as the case may be, for CA is not available in the same state/Union territory in which the diversion of forest land is proposed, land for CA can be identified in any other state/UT, preferably in a neighbouring state/UT.” “It is proposed that para 2.3(v) of the guidelines issued by the ministry may in general be relaxed for Delhi and CA may be allowed in neighbouring states,” the letter written by the DDA to the ministry read.
According to the guidelines issued under the Forest Conservation Act, compensatory afforestation is to be carried out on suitable non-forest land, equivalent to the area proposed for diversion, at the cost of the user agency. Compensatory afforestation can also be carried out on degraded land, twice in extent of the forest area diverted, in case of the projects implemented by the Centre or PSUs.
“The ministry may consider allowing CA for the project implemented by the central government/PSUs on degraded forest land in the neighbouring states of Delhi,” the DDA said.
A senior DDA official said under the Master Plan of Delhi, it was decided to set aside 15 per cent of the area for recreational land use under which all parks, green belts and forests are maintained.
“Against the 15 per cent area identified for recreational green use, the total forest and tree cover in the capital is now over 23 per cent as per the latest State of Forest Report published by the Forest Survey of India, Dehradun,” he said.
“Most of the recreational green areas identified under the master plan are already saturated with plantations…. Other vacant land parcels available in small patches are required for basic developmental needs of the citizens of Delhi,” read the DDA letter.
“There has been no land acquisition in Delhi since 1990. The DDA is now finding it very difficult to meet the requirement of land for CA out of the green areas identified under the master plan…. Under the present situation, it may now not be possible for the DDA to allot land for CA, which may adversely affect upcoming projects in Delhi,” it said.
The DDA had recently asked the Delhi forest department to revise the compensatory plantation scheme guidelines and bring down the number of saplings to be planted for every tree felled from 10 to two owing to a shortage of land. The request, however, was turned down.