Chandigarh, June 06, 2020.
As Chandigarh Forest department Friday claimed to achieve the surplus task of increasing the green cover in the city from 33 per cent to 46 per cent, city-based environmentalists say that it is now time to change policies focusing on the index bio-diversity and density of green cover.
The Greening Action, which was released on World Environment Day 2020, added that the forest department has decided to plant and distribute 2.55 lakh plants in Chandigarh.
“There is no dispute on the claim of 46 per cent. It is the canopy cover, which is being described as the green cover. Indeed, satellite images of Chandigarh backed the forest department’s claim. We should also remember that small shrubs, green bushes, etc areas were also included in the green cover. However, we should focus on the Index-Biodiversity. We should focus on the important, medicinal plants being planted in Chandigarh. The department needs to identify the vacant lands, where trees can be planted,” said Prof Rajneesh Watts.
Index Biodiversity refers to the number of species in the particular area multiplied by the total number of individuals in the area.
“Indeed, now we need to change our strategy. We have almost achieved the quantity target and now need to focus on the quality. As per the record, 51 per cent of the green cover of Chandigarh consists Eucalyptus trees. We have stopped the plantation of this species for a long time because there is no benefit of this plant in current time. We need to focus on other species, which are beneficial from all points of views,” said Debandra Dalia, Chief conservator of forest.
Paveela Bali, an activist who played a major role in the stay over proposed flyover on Dakshin Marg, refused to buy the claim of 46 per cent green cover in Chandigarh and raised questions about the methods of calculations. “There are certain patches of forest land in the middle of urban areas, which turned into garbage dumping spots. Soil cover around hundreds of trees were lying dug up openly suggesting tree can be fell anytime,” she said.
DCF-cum-Member Secretary Greening Chandigarh Action Plan, Abdul Qyaum said, “The green cover includes not only forest area but also private lands, big houses, where trees are planted. It is being observed that in coming years there will no need to increase the green cover but to do something differently. The matter is being discussed at the highest level.”
As per the National Forest Policy, 1998, every state and UT was given the target of achieving 33 per cent green cover. Chandigarh is 13 per cent ahead of the national target.