As reported in the ET Sunday magazine, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) recently stayed the felling of reportedly 16,000 trees in South Delhi for a Central government housing redevelopment project. The issue has pitted activists and residents against the government in a metropolis that often tops the list of the world’s most polluted cities. Conserving and expanding India’s urban green cover is one of the objectives of the draft National Forest Policy released earlier this year.
Despite the fact that India only has 2% of the world’s forests compared to 8% in USA and 5% in China, we only added 890,000 hectares of forest area between 2010 and 2015, compared to 1.37 million hectares by USA and a whopping 7.71 million hectares by China.
As per the Forest Survey of India, compared with India’s goal of achieving forest and tree cover comprising 33% of our total geographical area, India only reached 21.54% last year. Our tree cover – which fell marginally from 2.79% of our total geographical area to 2.78% between 2005 and 2013 (UPA era), has increased to 2.85% in the first four years of the Modi regime.
Amongst our 10 largest cities, shattering the myth of Bengaluru being the “garden city,” Greater Mumbai is NO.1 in forest cover with 22.24%, followed by Delhi at 12.97% and Surat at 11.3%. Pune comes in at No.4, with 10.92%, followed by Bengaluru with 10.66%. At the bottom of the ladder is Kolkata with a dismal 0.54%.
Hyderabad has seen the sharpest decline in tree cover in the last seven years, followed by Bengaluru at No.2 and Delhi at No.3