Sunday, Apr 27, 2003
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By Lalit K. Jha
More importantly, if one takes into account trees along the roadside and public parks, the total green cover touches 10.15 per cent. Also, Delhi is ranked 15th among all States and Union Territories in respect of the percentage of geographic area under tree cover.
Given that the Capital is under tremedous pressure with lakhs of people migrating to the city in search of livelihood every year, this is no mean achievement. According to seasoned Delhiites, the credit for this goes solely to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who is being described by environmentalists as ''the Green Chief Minister'' for her immense contribution to improving the city's environmental quality be it through CNG buses or enhancing the forest cover.
According to the latest State of Forests Report brought out by the Forest Survey of India, Delhi's dense forest cover increased from 35 sq.km to 38 sq. km during 1999-2001, while open forest cover jumped from 53 sq.km to 73 sq.km. In short, while Delhi had a forest cover of 88 sq.km in 1999, it rose to 111 sq.km in 2001. Also, if one excludes the forest cover, the Capital has 12.5 trees per hectare as against the national average of 11. These trees, estimated to number nearly 17 lakhs, occupy another 40 sq.km or 2.69 per cent of the total area against the national average of 2.48 per cent.
Interestingly, the report reveals that more than 70 per cent of the forest cover is in South and South-West Delhi alone. While South Delhi has 52.51 sq. km of forest cover, South-West Delhi has 30.09 sq.km.
However, the greenest of them all is Lutyens' Delhi with 27.88 per cent of its total area under forest cover. At the same time, much more needs to be done to expand the green cover in East Delhi -- where one-third of the city's population lives -- as also West and North-East Delhi where the forest cover is just 1.57 sq. km, 1.76 sq. km and 1.85 sq. km, respectively.
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