Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 09, 2013.

Govind Singh, who works with Delhi Greens, a non-governmental organisation working on biodiversity and tree conservation issues, spoke to Darpan Singh on the need to change our policies and priorities.

There are so many laws to protect trees. Is adherence an issue?
Our policies and priorities have to change. When we have to build Metro lines or flyovers, trees are cut easily. Land-owning agencies such as the Delhi Development Authority and the Central Public Works Department think only in terms of the so-called development. Even agencies such as Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, which are given land for development, do not have a balanced view.

What needs to be done to stem Delhi’s depleting green cover?
The whole concept of development through the green is flawed. It’s time we changed mindset and begin thinking about the future. We must strive to ensure development around the green.

What role can the citizens play to reverse the trend?

Our callousness must go. Even common citizens don’t feel much for the green cover. They apply for felling, often without valid reasons, and permissions by civic agencies as well as the forest department are granted without much thought being put in.

Why have sapling plantations failed to produce the desired results?
I don’t question the intent. The government spends a lot of money in free distribution of saplings. But where is the monitoring? Do they ever care for the plants which dry at petrol pumps without being planted? Laws stipulate that for every tree that is felled, 10 saplings must be planted. But there’s no monitoring. A good number of saplings never become trees.

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