In 2006 AID received this unique proposal from Kalpavriksh (KV) to fund its Joint Urban Greenâ€™s (JUG) project in Delhi. The project aims to create awareness related to urban greening issues, persuade the government agencies to effectively implement the existing tree preservation acts, and engage urban communities to look out for trees.
Delhi is home to the Ridge Forest, the only forest within an Indian city. It is the culminating spur of the Mewat branch of the Aravalli mountain range and constitutes the most significant physio-geographic feature of Delhi. The total area of the Ridge Forest is now approximately 7777 hectares divided in four pockets due to cutting and development of the range at many points. A number of other areas such as the Asola Sanctuary, Bhatti mines, Buddha Jayanti Park, and the Yamuna river are facing significant threats from the existing paradigm of ‘destroy and build development’. Despite the 33.0 percent green cover recommended under the National Forest Policy, Delhiâ€™s tree cover is only at 10.2 percent. Environmentalists, planners and citizens are stressing the need to consider alternatives to the large number of flyovers and underpasses, many of which are being constructed for the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
The JUG team has been voluntarily working on these and other urban greening issues for the last 5 years. The dramatic surge in development made it important for them to gain critical mass â€“ reach a wider audience, and implement efforts in a systematic and timely fashion. This required dedicated human resources and funding capacity.
The funding for this effort was provided by AID. Equipped with these funds the JUG team has accelerated research, advocacy and awareness building tasks related to urban greening.
Accomplishments of the Project Partners
Â· A netizen group â€˜Trees for Delhiâ€™ was created to involve community members to support and discuss issues of urban greens.
Â· After studying the plans for the High Capacity Bus System, JUG concluded that the plans did not consider environmental impacts. A petition was filed with the Chief Minister of Delhihighlighting the invaluable loss of trees. The CM took prompt action and called a meeting to discuss the issues. The agency implementing the system agreed to color-code trees that were designated for transplantation or cutting, provide temporary bus shelters along the corridors, and ensure breathing space around trees that had been paved over.
Â· Delhi Metro Rail Council also made a number of revisions in their plans for the Delhi Metro Rail pursuant to the recommendations of the JUG team. The council re-aligned part of the route to accommodate for the southern sections of theDelhi Ridge Forest. The construction designs were altered to reduce noise pollution from the rail tracks. In the end fewer trees than were originally permitted for the project, were cut and a large number of native species were included in the re-plantations. An interpretation center focusing on environment and local greening issues is also planned outside one of the metro stations.