The Delhi government has increased the security deposit for cutting down trees and the compensation cost for the loss of greenery under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994. The amount required to be paid as security deposit for cutting down each tree has been increased from Rs 28,000 to Rs 34,500, with a refundable component of Rs 15,000 for ensuring compensatory plantation in case of individual applicants.
While the rates for commercial projects has been increased from “the existing rate of Rs 28,000 to Rs 57,000 for each tree… with a refundable component of Rs 25,000 for ensuring compensatory plantation by the project authority”.
In 2012, the Forest department had attempted to increase the deposit amount after a study conducted by them. “We had wanted to to increase the deposit amount in order to ensure that companies/individuals pay for the actual cost of raising a sapling. However, at the time, the government shot down the proposal because a number of its infrastructure projects would have been affected,” a forest department official said.
The Delhi Cabinet had in 2010 increased the deposit amount 28-fold — from Rs 1,000 per tree to Rs 28,000. But there has been no increase since then. After taking charge, the AAP government had said the amount needed to be increased.
The numbers of trees felled for different development projects in Delhi during 2013-14 and 2014-15 are 8,196 and 6,058 respectively. But poor planning and inadequate land has caused problems for the Forest department’s re-plantation drive. Earlier in January, the department claimed in a reply to the NGT that it had planted nine lakh saplings in 2014 and distributed six lakh more saplings to the people. But with Delhi last seeing a substantial increase in forest cover in 2009, officials said that the number didn’t add up.
“The problem is that while we are planting the saplings, there is little planning in terms of monitoring their survival. In many cases, they die and are not replaced. In other cases, we outsource the planting to other agencies and there’s no mechanism to monitor them,” an official said.
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