Javadekar refuses to comment on Aarey forest issue

India's green cover has increased by 15,000 square kilometres, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday.

Responding to a question on the issue of felling trees in Mumbai's Aarey forest, in which the Supreme Court has restrained authorities from cutting anymore trees, Javadekar told the reporters here that he would not like to comment on a sub judice matter.

"The Supreme Court has given a decision on it, so I will not comment on the matter," he told a press conference at the ministry.

The environment minister, however, said, "If you cut one tree, you plant and ensure the growth of five trees."

Asked if afforestation has worked, Javadekar replied, "In the last four years, the green cover of the country has increased by 15,000 square kilometres. There are only a few countries in the world whose green cover has increased and those include India."

The apex court on Monday restrained authorities from cutting any more trees in Aarey Colony in Mumbai to build a Metro car shed.

According to a petition filed in the Supreme Court, it was Mumbai municipal corporation's decision to allow felling of over 2,600 trees in the green zone to set up a metro car shed and 1,500 trees have already been cut by the authorities.

The Union minister also appealed to the people not to burst firecrackers this Diwali.

If anyone wanted to burst them at all, he advised them opting for green crackers launched recently.

In his press conference, Javadekar also said even the national capital faces several pollution-related challenges but they can be tackled as the Central government has taken a slew of measures for the purpose in the last four years.

"The problem of pollution began in 2005-06 and no one was talking about it until 2014 when the Modi government recognised the problem and undertook the challenge to address it.

"We are bringing BS-VI compliant vehicles from next year, and 46 teams of the Central Pollution Control Board have been deployed to check the polluting activities in Delhi and NCR today onwards," Javadekar said, while listing out the actions taken by his ministry.

Enumerating some challenges in Delhi, the minister said seven major polluting areas have been identified in collaboration with IIT Delhi which were found to be having unpaved roads, industrial emissions and heave commercial vehicle activity.

These areas are Wazirabad, Mayapuri, Okhla, Faridabad 1 and 2, Sahibabad and Udyog Vihar, he said.

"As per the feedback of a CPCB's team, the poor waste management, inadequate sweeping of roads and unauthorised parking were reported in these areas," the minister said.

The minister also said Delhi was short of 5,000 buses out of a total requirement of 11,500 buses based on the report on route rationalisation by the GNCT.

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