There has been a decline in natural conservation zones (NCZ) like forests, water bodies and waste lands in the National Capital Region, Urban Development minister M Venkaiah Naidu stated in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
As per analysis done in 2012 by National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) along with the National Remote Sensing Centre, using satellite images, there has been a decline in NCZs vis-à-vis those contained in the Regional Plan 2021, notified in 2005, Naidu said.
The minister maintained that the said decline in NCR of Delhi has been 15.43 per cent, while it is 43.88 per cent in case of Uttar Pradesh, 25.97 per cent in case of Haryana and 11.18 per cent in Rajasthan.
The four participating states of NCR—Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan — have been sent notices under Section 29 (2) of the NCRPB Act, 1985, he said.
“Notices have been sent to all four states seeking a response on the reason for decline in natural conservation zones. We will decide on the future course of action once we receive their replies. The board may direct the concerned participating state or union territory to stop such activity (that reduces NCZs) and can withhold financial assistance to the concerned participating state or the union territory,” a senior government official said.
Forest department officials also admitted that there has been a continued decline in the number of water bodies in Delhi. A survey released by Delhi Parks and Gardens Society (DPGS) has shown that of the 611 water bodies in the capital, 274 have already dried up many and as many as 190 have been lost forever and cannot be revived.
However, Sanjiv Kumar, Delhi government environmental secretary, while maintaining that he hadn’t seen the data that Naidu had quoted said forest cover in Delhi has increased significantly.
“The work in Delhi has been good and forest cover has been increasing. I don’t know about the status of other participating states in NCR,” he said.
He said previous studies had found that forest cover in Delhi has been increasing. The India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2013 says of the nine districts in Delhi, five – east, northwest, southwest, south and west — have registered an increase in forest cover.
At 2.83 sq km, southwest Delhi has gained the maximum, Kumar said.
Responding to other questions, Naidu further said people living in slum areas of Delhi has declined by 2,44,365 between 2001 and 2011.
As per the information furnished by the minister, Delhi ranks ninth among 35 states and union territories with a slum population of 17,85,390 as per 2011 Census as against 20,29,755 in 2001.