The Delhi government Friday approved a tree transplantation policy and sanctioned funds to construct a smog tower at Connaught Place as part of its efforts to combat air pollution, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced.
While the tree transplantation policy had first figured in the Delhi government’s annual budget for 2019-20, two smog towers, including the proposed structure at Connaught Place, are being constructed following a November 2019 order of the Supreme Court to the Delhi government and the Central Pollution Control Board.
Kejriwal said that under the tree transplantation policy, agencies or institutions behind any project will not only have to transplant at least 80 per cent of affected trees, they will have to ensure survival of at least 80 per cent of transplanted trees.
What it takes to move a tree
Tree transplantation is a complicated process with a success rate of around 50 per cent. It costs around Rs 1 lakh to transplant an average-sized tree. The survival rate of a transplanted tree depends on soil type as a tree growing on the Delhi ridge is unlikely to survive in the Yamuna floodplain. The key to success also lies in how efficiently the roots are isolated and the tree is kept hydrated.
“Often, felling trees becomes a compulsion for us in order to carry out development work. So far, one was supposed to plant 10 saplings against the felling of every full grown tree. But a sapling cannot make up for the loss that cutting an adult tree entails,” Kejriwal told a webcast while announcing the Cabinet decisions.
The CM said that the progress of science has made transplantation with a good survival rate possible. Agencies having a good track record in the area of transplantation will be empanelled with the government for this purpose, he said.
“Every agency or government department will have to engage one such agency to carry out the task of transplantation. The payment will be made only after a year, following a count of the transplanted trees that have survived. At least 80 per cent trees need to survive,” Kejriwal said.
Experts say that transplantation is a complicated process and the survival rate of transplanted trees is around 50 per cent. Moreover, not all trees can be transplanted and the ones that can be shifted can cost up to Rs 1 lakh or more.
On the smog tower, Kejriwal said that the structure, which will act like a mega air purifier, will come up in the next 10 months, a deadline also set by the Supreme Court last month. The cost of the project has been pegged at Rs 20 crore, he said.
The other proposed smog tower at East Delhi’s Anand Vihar, a pollution hotspot, will be built by the Union government, the CM added.
“The smog tower at CP will work in accordance with a technology which is different from the one in China. The proposed structure will suck in air from the top and release purified air near the ground,” he said.
Smog towers have been experimented with in recent years in cities in the Netherlands, China, South Korea and Poland. The first such tower was erected in 2015, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, created by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde.
The towers to be installed in Delhi will be the result of a collaboration between the IITs at Mumbai and Delhi, and the University of Minnesota. IIT-Bombay had backed out of the project in July, only to return within a day after SC expressed its displeasure over the development.
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