Delhi government gave permission to cut 30,863 trees in the last three years with a condition that 2.99 lakh saplings will be re-planted by applicants,but neither the target could be reached nor the balance plantation charges of over Rs six crore recovered.
Merely 1.8 lakh trees have been re-planted while the officials’ failure to recover the cost of balance plantation (1.19 lakh trees at the rate of Rs 650 per tree) from the defaulters resulted to non-recovery of Rs 6.61 crore,the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has said.
In its latest report for the year ending 2008,which was tabled in Delhi Assembly,the CAG observed It was seen that the Forest Department was collecting security deposits from all those who had applied for permission for felling trees. But the security deposit collected had no relation to the rate fixed for cost of plantation that was to be recovered from the defaulters. Hence,as against the security deposit of Rs 72.10 lakh collected by the department,the re-plantation cost to be recovered worked out at Rs 7.33 crore. This meant a loss of Rs 6.61 crore.
In the absence of specific norms,the officers were fixing the norms as per their discretion,the CAG noted and rapped the Department for non-seriousness in ensuring the success of the green drive.
The CAG has recommended framing of rules regarding the amount of security deposit,number of trees to be planted and the cost of plantation to be recovered from the defaulters in case of non-compliance of the orders of the officers.
This is not the first time that poor plantation drive has caught the attention of the CAG and the Forest Department seemed to paying no heed to its suggestions.
In its report in 2005,the CAG highlighted cases of non-recovery of government dues totalling Rs 1.84 crore wherein there was huge shortfall in plantation of trees during the period 1999-2000 to 2003-04.
The Department took no action to recover the cost of the re-plantation from the defaulting parties or undertake any re-plantation itself, the CAG pointed out.