Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Noida: Over 2.5K trees felled in five years, reveals RTI query

Hindustan Times: New Delhi: Vinod Rajput: Tuesday, June 17, 2017.
Environmentalists allege that tree felling is rampant in Noida.
The Gautam Budh Nagar district forest department gave permission for felling 2,560 fully grown trees in the last five years, an application under the Right To Information (RTI) Act has revealed.
Greater Noida-based environmentalist Vikrant Tongad had in February filed an RTI application seeking details of the total number of trees cut in the last five years but the forest department has furnished the details only this month.
The forest department in its reply has stated that the response to the application was delayed because the staff was busy with their duties for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
According to the reply, 42 trees are being cut every month in Noida and Greater Noida for various reasons, including development projects and infrastructure work.
“The department received an application seeking permission to cut a total of 3,948 trees in the last five years but of these, it did not grant permission for 1,388 applications,” the reply to the RTI application stated.
In the last 10 years, 42% of the trees that the department had planted in the district have survived. In Gautam Budh Nagar, the state government had in the monsoon of 2016, asked the Noida and Greater Noida authorities to plant 6.5 lakh saplings in the monsoon.
Continuing the drive this year as well, the Noida and Greater Noida authorities, among others, in Gautam Budh Nagar will together plant around 4 lakh trees to increase the green cover and mitigate air pollution.
“The Gautam Budh Nagar forest department and other government bodies do not emphasise on protecting trees. They focus more on tree plantation. Trees are being felled every day in Noida and Greater Noida without permission but the forest department takes no action against this rampant crime despite complaints. I do not trust the forest department officials on the figures of trees felled in the last five years. They should take strict action against those mindlessly chopping down trees,” Tongad said. The forest department, however, refuted Tongad’s allegations.
“The forest department has provided the details under RTI application as per records available. We are focusing on both protection and plantation, to increase the green cover,” NC Upadhyay, subdivisional officer (SDO), Gautam Budh Nagar district, said.