Re-establish Delhi Tree Authority, say experts

New Delhi: A day ahead of a plantation drive, think tank Centre for Policy Research on Friday wrote to the Delhi Chief Minister asking him to re-establish the Delhi Tree Authority by appointing urban and legal planners, environmental organisations and individuals as members.

Upset over the selective implementation of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act of 1994, it asked the government to declare that no tree felling permission will be granted without the critical assessment of a reconstituted and proactive tree authority.

The letter demanded setting up of joint partnership schemes between citizens and the Delhi Forest Department for a long comprehensive tree census and tree audits.

It also demanded restriction on felling trees.

Picking holes in the implementation of the preservation of trees Act, the letter, written by Kanchi Kohli and Manju Menon, says over the years the implementation of the law appears to have been limited to processing applications for felling of trees by the designated tree officer.

Moreover, the approval provisions are being implemented without heeding the several critical requirements of the law prior to grant of felling permits.

This includes making functional the Delhi Tree Authority, undertaking a comprehensive tree census, realising compensatory plantations (where trees have already been lost).

By processing the approvals for tree felling without implementing the other proactive and progressive clauses, the government has turned the tree preservation act into a “permit-granting machine”, they said.

The government can set an example by forming joint partnership between citizens and the government to undertake tree census and carry out public audits of compensatory plantations sites,” the letter added.