In an effort to emphasize the need for more green spaces in the capital city, the High Court has urged officials on Wednesday to explore land for afforestation beyond Ridge areas. Justice Jasmeet Singh conveyed high expectations from forest officials and called for an escalated effort to address this issue at a war footing. The court noted that Delhi needs alternative green spaces, and land utilization must be explored. It questioned why authorities are not working on alternatives to Central Ridge.
The court remarked that beyond the government’s ongoing efforts, how can the city combat pollution effectively? The presence of more green cover is essential for improving citizens’ lives. How do you disregard this? Officials admitted to encroachments in some parts of the Ridge and informed the court that certain locations in the capital city have been designated as forest areas.
The counsel for the Delhi government explained to the court that the city police have never refused assistance but removing encroachments from the Ridge areas falls under the jurisdiction of the concerned authorities. This mountain range, known as the Aravalli range, is considered the lung of the national capital and comprises rocky, hilly, and forested regions. For administrative reasons, it has been divided into four zones: South, South-Central, Central, and North, with a total area of approximately 7,784 hectares. The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for September 27th.
Forest Conservator Asked to Report on Afforestation
Justice Singh asked the forest conservator to provide details about the number of trees planted, the land lost, and encroachments made. Additionally, the court proposed identifying alternative forest development for the area. The court stressed that this should be done at a war footing. Officials were also directed to submit the journal prepared by officers on afforestation and maintenance-related issues.
Justice Singh stated that more than 2,700 trees have been planted along the roadsides, as per the directive to plant 10,000 trees. The court observed that for a city like Delhi, a mere 2,000 trees is a small number, and it should have millions of trees planted. Aditya N Prasad, a friend of the court assisting in the case, raised issues concerning the Forest Department’s organizational structure and highlighted a staff shortage.
Advocate Gautam Narayan, who is also involved in this case, deals with matters related to afforestation in the city. Earlier this year, the High Court had directed officials to plant a minimum of 10,000 trees in the city by utilizing over INR 7 million deposited by defaulting parties for public welfare.