The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has brought up the “shortage” of land for greening initiatives in the national capital on numerous occasions.
According to the forest department, a thorough examination of the plantable area in the Yamuna floodplains was done in light of the Center’s intention to restore 13 main rivers, including the Yamuna, through forestry intervention.
The 13 river revitalization detailed project reports (DPRs) were published in March by the Union Environment Ministry.
By creating riverfronts and eco-parks, the DPRs emphasize preservation, afforestation, watershed treatment, ecological restoration, moisture conservation, livelihood development, income production and ecotourism.
In addition to advantages in the form of non-timber forest products, the Center claims that the operations suggested in the DPRs will assist expand the green cover, decrease soil erosion, recharge the water table, and aid in carbon dioxide sequestration.
“As per the directions of the chief secretary, a detailed analysis of the land available for plantations in the Yamuna floodplains has been done, taking into consideration the prescription of the DPR for forestry intervention for the rejuvenation of the Yamuna and O-zone”, read a forest department communication to the DDA.
The O-zone has land that is at least 5,532 hectares large. Approximately 9,000 hectares of the Yamuna floodplains are open for development, according to the report.
Given the ‘urgent need for land for compensatory afforestation and plantation, and transplantation, which frequently impedes the completion of key projects of national importance’, the department requested assistance from the DDA on the analysis.
It stated that the 2,480 hectares of land that have been encroached upon or developed since 2009 are in addition to the 9,000 hectares of land in the river floodplains.
Officials from the forest department claim that by planting trees in the river floodplains Delhi’s green cover may rise from the current 23% to 25% by 2025.
The DDA had previously requested that the forest department amend the standards for the compensatory plantation project and reduce the number of saplings that must be planted for each tree that is cut from ten to two in order to address the issue of land scarcity in Delhi.
Due to the lack of land in the capital, the land-owning agency had also written to the Union Environment Ministry to ask that it permit compensatory afforestation for all projects carried out in Delhi and the surrounding states.
According to the guidelines issued under the Forest Conservation Act, compensatory afforestation should be done on suitable non-forest land, equivalent to the area proposed for diversion, at the cost of the user agency.
A senior DDA official said under the Master Plan of Delhi, it was decided to set aside 15% of the area for recreational land use under which all parks, green belts and forests are maintained.
“Against the 15% area identified for recreational green use, the total forest and tree cover in the capital is now over 23 per cent, according to the latest State of Forest Report”, the official said.
According to officials, most of the recreational green areas identified under the master plan are already saturated with plantations. Remaining vacant land parcels available in small patches are needed for basic developmental requirements of the citizens of Delhi.
(With inputs from PTI)
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