Decreasing greens, worrisome matter

CITY'S CONCERN

Decreasing greens, worrisome matter

The sparrow population has already declined in the urban areas of India, including Delhi and gone are days when house sparrows were the most spotted birds around homes.

Though this fact is alarming in itself, disappearing sparrows are also an indicator of environmental concern and proof of decreasing green cover in Delhi.

According to a recent survey by the Forest Survey of India (FSI) – the India State of Forest Report 2011 – green cover in the Capital has gone down by 0.38/sqkm bet­w­een 2006 and 2008. The survey though, has been challenged both by the Delhi Forest Department and environmentalists, who have questioned the methodology and limitations of this study.

Be that as it may, the survey does raise the alarming question of depleting green cover in the National Capital which is harming the flora, fauna and even citizens. Metrolife spoke to a few environmentalists to explore the issue further.

Environmentalist Govind Singh feels that the, “decreasing green cover will increase the carbon footprint. We need to protect our habitat, flora and fauna and for that we need trees. The most common issues that will crop as a result of the depleted cover will be increase in pollution leading to an increase in cases of asthma and the rain pattern being affected.”

Filmmaker-turned-environmentalist Pradip Krishen, who has also authored Trees of Delhi apart from denouncing such surveys, also maintains that the officials are not helping matters with their lack of knowledge. “The horticulture and forest departments have very poor knowledge of plantation.

There is nobody there who can suggest any idea worth experimenting with. Nobody can give valuable suggestions.” Compounding the issue are the compensation drives by the government, wherein “officials plant those trees which are ineffective for the environment, like silver oak and karanj.”

The problem does not end there. According to Govind, the City has a pro-development lobby, which wants immediate gain both in terms of money and infrastructure and because of this they lack any long-term plans for the City.

Pradip questions the very basis of these over-arching surveys – irrespective of whether they suggest an increase or decrease in the green cover. “These surveys contain gross figures. There is no actual data about the green cover of Delhi. This is a blunted instrument and a political game. Earlier, when they said that the green cover had increased in the City, we had challenged them asking for evidence.” Obviously, that hadn’t been forthcoming. 

He adds, “These surveys are done with satellite images and there is always the possibility of adding false colour through software to show increased green cover. You just cannot believe these surveys.”

As a probable solution the environmentalists suggest that good and efficient plans are needed to improve the tree cover. Native trees which can easily adapt to the conditions should be given preference. Says Pradip, “It starts with ecological issues because if you plant native trees, than you are planting trees which have already adapted to the environment; they don’t need any extra water or nutrients.”

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