While the Delhi High Court, the state and the central governments continue to be at loggerheads with each other over the felling of 14,000 trees for the redevelopment project in south Delhi, concerned citizens and members of environment groups gathered in Sarojini Nagar Sunday evening to protest against the move.
The protest, which was a part of a series of smaller protests that have been taking place since Friday, drew participants from Punjabi Bagh, Mayur Vihar and Vasant Kunj. Many were clad in green, and some of them invoked the Chipko Movement of the 1970s by embracing trees by the roadside and in parks.
Latika Narang, a resident of Gurgaon, said, “Last year, doctors were asking people not to go jogging and keep their windows shut because air pollution had reached a critical level. Last week, air quality plummeted even more. The argument against the felling is that more trees mean more oxygen.”
At the protest site, along with speeches and sloganeering, saplings of medicinal plants like tulsi and neem were distributed. Raj Sharma, an environmentalist, said, “We’re giving these plants as gifts to the inhabitants of this concrete jungle they (the government) are building.”
The environmental organisations which have decided to work together against the felling include Greenpeace, Say Hello to Green Foundation, Toxic Link, SAFE and CHETNA. Prerna Prasad, founder of Ecoplore, said the plan is to carry out a “united and continuous protest” until this decision is rolled back.
Anil Sood, who filed a petition before the NGT, set to be heard on July 2, said, “Saurabh Bhardwaj of AAP told me that he will go to the L-G office tomorrow to request that the felling be stopped immediately. It’s not like there are no other options for redevelopment. We will continue protesting, and we are gathering next Sunday at 5.30 pm at Siri Fort.”
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