Planted 2.5 crore trees in four years, increased Delhi’s green cover: Gopal Rai

New Delhi, Jun 18 (PTI) Amid the searing heat in the national capital, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Tuesday said the plantation of around 2.5 crore saplings in the past four years has increased the city’s green cover.

To reduce air pollution and combat the heat wave, a meeting to execute the 12-point summer action plan formulated by the Delhi government led by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was held on Tuesday, officials said.

Representatives of more than 25 agencies met under the chairmanship of Rai at the Delhi Secretariat to make the tree plantation campaign, which is part of the action plan, successful, they said.

Delhi’s green cover rose from 20 per cent in 2013 to 23.6 per cent in 2021, Rai said during a press conference.

The minister said the primary solution to rising temperatures, which has broken records in Delhi and across the country in the last one-and-a-half months, is to increase the green cover.

When the elections were being held last time, the Delhi chief minister gave 10 guarantees to the people of the city in which the major one was that two crore saplings would be planted in five years, he said.

“In the last four years, the number of saplings planted in Delhi has reached 2.5 crore. The guarantee, which was to be fulfilled in five years, the government has achieved it in four years by working with over 25 greening agencies in the city,” Rai said, adding that this campaign will have to be taken further forward.

“We are constantly working to increase the green cover in the national capital. In 2013, the green area of the city was 20 per cent that rose to 23.6 per cent in 2021 due to the tree plantation campaign,” he said.

After the meeting, Rai said the Delhi government has set a target of planting and distributing 64 lakh saplings this year. Of this, 24.83 lakh larger plants and 31.57 lakh shrubs will be planted and 7.74 lakh saplings distributed free of cost to the people of Delhi.

“Last year, we had set a target of planting 52 lakh saplings. This year, we have set a target of planting 64 lakh saplings. In this, the forest department has taken the target of planting the maximum number of saplings,” Rai said.

“The forest department will plant 20.40 lakh saplings while the DDA (Delhi Development Authority) will plant 10.20 lakh, NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council) six lakh, education department 3.30 lakh, and the MCD (Municipal Corporation of Delhi) six lakh. Other agencies will also do plantation work,” the minister added.

All the agencies of Delhi are making positive efforts to make Delhi pollution free. Tree plantation campaigns are being run every year to increase the green cover of Delhi and reduce pollution, Rai said and added that the national capital has become number one in the country in terms of per capita forest cover of cities.

He said Delhiites should also cooperate with the government in this campaign. For this, the government will provide free medicinal plants to the people.

The plants will be distributed free of cost from Delhi government nurseries so that people can participate in promoting the green cover of Delhi by planting trees in their homes, he added.

This year, more than 7.74 lakh plants will be distributed free of cost. The forest department will distribute 4.80 lakh plants, Delhi Parks and Garden Society 2.50 lakh plants, CPWD 40,000 plants and the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board 4,000 plants, the minister said.

Rai directed the forest department officials to get the details of tree plantation from various departments. Instructions have also been issued to all the departments concerned to conduct third-party audits to check the survival rate of the plants planted under the campaign.