Over the past 15 years, the national government sanctioned the redirection of 103.79 hectares of woodland within Delhi for developmental ventures, such as constructing roads and laying power lines, in accordance with the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, as indicated by government data.
The figures reveal that 63.30 hectares of woodland in the city were repurposed during the fiscal year 2022-23, and 21.75 hectares in 2021-22.
Furthermore, 384.38 hectares, equivalent to 3.84 square kilometers, of forest land within the capital is presently occupied by encroachments.
Delhi’s forest coverage spans 195 square kilometers, which constitutes 13.15 percent of its total land area of 1,483 square kilometers. However, of this forested area, only 103 square kilometers are officially designated and recorded in government documents, according to the India State of Forest Report for 2021.
In accordance with information presented to the Delhi High Court in May of the previous year, the city administration authorized the felling and transplantation of at least 77,000 trees—equivalent to three trees every hour—for developmental initiatives within the capital over the preceding three years, as stipulated by the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act (DPTA).
The forest department’s statistics also indicate that only one-third of the trees transplanted during this period managed to survive.
The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980, a pivotal legislation for safeguarding forests and biodiversity in India, mandates the prior approval of the central government for any project or activity that necessitates the clearance of forested land. This Act strives to strike a balance between development and environmental preservation by ensuring the sustainable utilization of forest resources.
The Delhi Preservation of Trees Act (DPTA) is a legal framework established by the city government to manage and regulate tree felling within the capital. It mandates the acquisition of advance consent from the designated tree officer.
(With PTI inputs)