On mission to protect green cover

He is the man responsible for guarding the capital’s lungs. But he knows that he has a Herculean task on his hands. Meet Sanjiv Kumar, secretary environment and forests, Delhi government, who is ona virtual overdrive to protect the Ridge that is often referred to as the lungs of the city.

The 1992 batch IAS officer is also focussed on promoting public transport to reduce use of private vehicles and keep air pollution in check.

“I am woking to achieve a green, clean, pollution-free city,” he said. But he admitted that there were huge challenges and results may not be visible overnight. “It’s an on-going exercise. A time-consuming effort which may yield long-term results,” he said.

The official, who is also the chairperson of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, said most of the times new issues and concerns are brought to their notice which require putting in place policies.

One of the new initiatives that he takes pride in is the satellite monitoring of the Ridge area, which is likely to come up by the end of the year.

“The process of identification of Ridge Forest land with the help of Geographic Information System (GIS) applications has been finalised and ground-truthing of the same is under progress,” he said.

He said the Ridge Forest land was notified under section 4 of Indian Forest Act, 1927 by Government Notification issued in 1994.

The department of forests and wildlife has constituted a Special Task Force (STF) for identification and demarcation of notified forest land.

“Till date, STF has geo-referenced and digitised maps of villages in southern Ridge to consolidate the forest area in Delhi,” he said.

Checking illegal construction and encroachment in the Ridge area is another challenge before Sanjiv Kumar.

“This year, there has been no complaint of illegal construction. Our guards remain on alert to check any violation,” he said, adding that there were plans to use satellite technology to protect the Ridge.

“The forest department is in the process of finalisation of online monitoring system for protection and management of Ridge. The Ridge Protection Monitoring System (RPMS) may be the most ambitious technological application, which is based on GIS applications to keep vigil and online monitoring of the Ridge,” he said. Till the time this initiative takes shape a bulk of the responsibility to protect the Ridge is on the security guards, he said.
“The department has assigned the duty to field staff for patrolling in forest to check illegal construction or encroachment,” he said.

“Officials of forest divisions in consultation with the District Task Force under the deputy commissioner of the district concerned, take actions for removal of encroachment,” he said.

The green department’s head said checking noise pollution and safe disposal of waste, especially, by health centres was also a key area of concern for his department.
“We have acted on complaints against private hospitals which weren’t disposing off their waste safely,” he said.

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