June 22nd, 2018

The tragic saga of Delhi’s 16,500 doomed trees

Most of you will know already that Delhi is a city with a dubious reputation, that of one of the world’s most polluted cities.  I think we were THE most polluted at one time.  Now we’re just one of the most, perhaps the 11th most polluted in the world. Not that this ranking is anything to be proud of.  Far from it.

What is alarming at the moment is that we are at the height of our brutally hot summer.

And many of the usual winter-pollution-culprits are not in the fray now and so we cannot blame them, as we usually do:

1. There are no stubble-burning farmers at work in the neighbouring states.

2. There are no winter fires burned by all the poor slum dwellers and street people to keep warm.

3. Schools are shut so vehicular traffic is hugely reduced – it’s almost a pleasure to drive these days, without the endless traffic jams.

AND YET OUR POLLUTION LEVELS ARE THROUGH THE ROOF.

You can taste the pollution.

You can feel it.

I don’t actually need the hourly updates via Twitter, like so.  Just got this one:

 

It is against this doomsday backdrop – and I won’t even start to discuss the terrifying story in The Telegraph about Delhi running out of groundwater in 2 years – so, as I said, it is against this nightmare scenario that we learn that there are plans to cut down 16,500 trees in south Delhi.

16,500 trees.  Yes, you read that right.

And why?

Oh, to build flats for bureaucrats.

And yes, for the second time in as many seconds, you read that right.

The city is planning on chopping down 15,000 more trees – 1,500 have already gone, we learn – in order to build flats.  For government employees.  It hardly bears thinking about.  In a city so polluted, so dusty, so noisy we need every inch of green cover to try and combat the toxic, noxious mess.

The powers that be airily promise that they will plant 10 saplings for each tree they cut.  I haven’t got the patience nor the energy to deal with such stupidity right now, but the immediate things that spring to mind are the obvious ones ie

1. How many years before the saplings grown into lovely mature trees?

2. Who will monitor the planting and nurturing of the saplings?

3. How will saplings planted in x location ease the pollution/noise/shade/disturbed wildlife in the denuded areas?

This is a shocking, frightening state of affairs and, like many citizens, I have been an armchair warrior and signed a petition.  PLEASE read this story by the always-excellent The Quint.  If you feel moved to register your anger at such a proposal, please sign, protest, spread the word.

I know a dedicated young man who is a tireless activist on behalf of Delhi’s trees and wildlife.  Verhaen Khanna, of the New Delhi Nature Society (do please follow him on Instagram) went out 2 days ago and documented the tree cutting horrors.

Here are some of his photos.  Enough to make you weep. 2 days ago, Verhaen visited the colonies targeted for this tree felling…

Verhaen’s video clip, below, illustrates what, holistically, we stand to lose.  Trees.  Tree cover.  And the wildlife that lives in them.

I’ll keep you updated, and in the meantime, if any of you have news & views – do please share your thoughts here.

And, most importantly, please get involved!

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