Sunday, December 30, 2018

Deforestation is a neglected concern for air pollution


Deforestation is a neglected concern for air pollution  
(Round Table on Pollution - causes, concerns and solutions)
V Selvarajan Founder Green Circle
Panelist in the round table on 22.12.18 organised by Chetna

An effort is made in this paper to correlate the impact of deforestation on air pollution and suggest corrective measures to revisit the present status of pollution control measures in the pretext of ongoing deforestation in Delhi

GRAP measures need changes
A study conducted on behalf of the Delhi Government by IIT-Kanpur on air pollution in the city published in 2016 stated there were 13 key pollution sources and their relative contributions to different pollutants fouling up the air. These include dust sources such as road dust and construction dust as well as a large number of combustion sources namely vehicles, power plants, industries and waste burning. Air Pollution in Delhi is formidable and while everyone is highly concerned about the control of the pollution level, the measures outlined in the form of Graded response action plan (GRAP) by MoEFCC/CPCB does not appear to be concerned about forests or consider tree as a pollution control tool despite the apparent fact that the carbon absorption capacity is gifted by nature only to trees on the planet earth. The increased forest cover is the best pro-active measure to make Carbon reduction possible. Under this backdrop, the author is of the strong opinion that the GRAP measures listed out by the department be revisited to include increased forest cover as an air pollution control measure

Air Pollution vs trees
The relationship between trees and air pollution is a complex one. It is necessary to assess whether the deforestation has a direct bearing on air pollution levels. In Delhi the major contributor to the air pollution is in the form of PM .5 and PM 10. These Particulate matter suspended in polluted air tends to settle on leaves and certain gases including nitrous dioxide (NO2) are absorbed by leaves’ stomata, filtering the air and reducing pollution levels slightly.

But it is apprehended that the trees and other vegetation restrict airflow in their immediate vicinity, preventing pollution from being diluted by currents of cleaner air. In particular, tall trees with thick canopies planted alongside busy roads can act like a roof, trapping pockets of polluted air at ground level. While the significance of this thought needs scientific evidences, to improve air quality, city planners need to give careful consideration to how trees are spaced while going for massive plantation. This can be a realistic option since the unmindful planting of trees lack farsightedness

Delhi’s status of forest
The National Forest Policy, 1988 provides that a minimum of 1-3rd of the total land area of the country should be under forest area. As per 2015 status report of forests, Delhi has 299.58 sq km of land under forest which accounts for 20.22 % of the Geographic area which means still we are lagging behind in tree cover. Out of this, 111 sq. kms is TREE COVER and 188.77 sq. kms. is FOREST COVER making a total of 299.77 sq. kms. In the light of tall claims of huge forest cover in Delhi, we need to analyse the status of forests in the light of the official definitions offered by forest department which has provided the above data.

What is Forest cover? The term 'Forest Cover' as used in the 'SFR' refers to all lands more than one hectare in area, having a tree canopy density of more than 10%. Assuming that the forest department has accounted forest cover at this ratio, then it goes without saying that all the accounted forest area of 188.77 Sq KMs will have just in reality counts for 10% of it. In other words, the greenery in these area may be just 19 Sq KMs of actual forests or just a little more of it. Let’s assume that it may be 25 Sq KMs on a ‘generous’ accounting (extrapolation of data is quite a common thing in statistical methods). The term 'Forest Area' (or recorded forest area) generally refers to all the geographic areas recorded as forest in government records. Recorded forest areas largely comprise Reserved Forests (RF) and Protected Forests (PF), which have been constituted under the provisions of Indian Forest Act, 1927.  Besides RFs and PFs, the recorded forest area may include all such areas, which have been recorded as forests in the revenue records or have been constituted so under any State Act or local laws.

What is Tree cover? Tree cover comprises of tree patches outside the recorded forest area exclusive of forest cover and less than the minimum mapable area (1 ha). These lands are not recorded forest area as per definition above. Such areas may include orchards, bamboo and palm also which may not produce much oxygen or filter much carbon emissions. However in the definition of These trees are also

What is forest then? Obviously the Forest cover as well as Tree Cover account for the term 'forest” which means that the presence of trees over private areas or residential areas too also account for the forest area.  This is how Delhi has a forest of 299.77 Sq Kms which included 111 sq. kms tree cover and 188.77 sq. kms forest cover.

If Delhi flaunts that it has forest to the tune of a fifth of the Geographic area of 1500 sq km, it is indeed a farce and just a play with the jugglery of definitions and an effort to shut the mouths of the conscious citizens. Real efforts should be made using satellite mapping and scientific technologies.

Saving Trees to prevent pollution
Chipko Movement of South Delhi brought many of us together. 16500 trees were at stake in South Delhi, India Gate trees are awaiting axe. Atul Khataria Chowk is ready for felling, Noida is almost finished. Aravali will be a history soon. Dwarka Express way is going to end another 3000 trees. Things are not moving in good direction despite our concerted efforts to fight against the double giants NBCC and CPWD.  Any moment axe may fall on the trees. If the tree cover is not sufficient we go for planting new trees which take at least 30 years to reach an acceptable definition of TREE. But cutting well grown trees is not stopped though our movement has prevented. The ongoing construction activities will increase AQI for sure, but are we going to allow that. Answer is an emphatic YES and NO which squarely depends on civic society’s conviction.  An ordinary Delhi citizen rarely comes out for fighting against any Social evil whether it is a child abuse, women empowerment, corruption in public life, pollution or tree felling. But a concerted effort an selfless service for saving a tree is essential. Right under our nose many trees are dying a slow death. We have identified many concerns such as nailing, concretisation, termite infection, Amar bel onslaught, natural disasters like uprooting of trees etc. Pruning of leaves is another issue.

While Delhi Tree Act stipulates norms, we come across cases where trees are pruned unmindful of standard pruning norms. No enforcement is in place against the perpetrators of the crime. Very soon, we will have to rename the popular residential areas in South Delhi in particular as Kidwainagar desert, Netaji nagar desert etc Instead of going to Rajastan Jaisalmir to see deserts, we can soon see camels walking in Delhi. The author is of the opinion that the present pattern of planting of trees is neither scientific not sustainable. During the last season, the Delhi Government has gone for massive plantation and all departments were given quantitative target. In their anxiety to achieve the given target in the short span of monsoon days, departments were seen planting homogenous trees wherever space was available. Choice of trees was also not done with proper homework on the sustainable species. .In many cases, it was seen that ornamental plants were planted just to reach the numerical targets. Planting trees in platforms and then concretizing the platforms have led to the death and decay of the existing trees.

Saving an existing tree is more important than planting 10 new trees which will take years to bring the expected results. Further the tree care must focus on removing parasitic creepers such as Amar Bel (Cuscuta) and termite infection. Focus for new tree plantation must take into account the Indigenous species, long term planning for spacing, avoidance of ornamental and homogenous plantation besides ensuring regular watering




Tuesday, July 3, 2018

CHIPKO DELHI MOVEMENT


CHIPKO PARTICIPATION BY GREEN CIRCLE
On 24.6.2018, Green Circle has conducted a symbolic CHIPKO in front of Diamond Square apartment Sector 6 Dwarka. A large number of members who participated in the Chipko Dwarka had proceeded further to join the CHIPKO INDIA site at Sarojini nagar. Anil Sood of CHETNA, NGO received the Green Circle team. Selvarajan on behalf of Green Circle addressed the gathering and expressed solidarity with the CHIPKO organizers. Advocate Gautam Sarkar announced that Green Circle will join the application filed by CHETNA before NGT to take the task legally. Addressing the media persons, Selvarajan said that compensatory planting of 135000 trees is just an eye wash and would in no way compensate the well grown trees axed now.  He added that there is no logic or rhyme in planting 10 little saplings in the place of one 50 year old tree in respect of oxygen contribution. He wondered how the environmental clearance for the whole project was given, without properly accounting the environmental loss due to cutting trees. Green Circle members Ravi Jaitley, S K Malik, Anurag Mohan, Munish, Anurag Behl, Romilla Gandhi, Jyoti, Sandhya, Vadhera embraced the tree and vowed to save trees. Members later joined the candle march also
On 27.6.2018, Green circle team led by Anil Kumar Parashar led the protest at the protest site in Sarojini Nagar. Sukh dukh ke saathi team lead by Capt. Mann joined the protest. Protestors from other parts of Delhi joined in support. Protestors displayed placards in support of stoppage of brutal killing of fully grown up trees. It was also informed that whole night patrolling will continue to stop cutting of trees despite orders of the incident after reported alleged incident.
On 1.7.2018, CHIPKO Protest was held at Sri Fort South Delhi in an unique way to save trees of South Delhi. From Green Circle Dwarka, Mr Parashar, Mr Deewan Singh, Mr R K Khanna and V Selvarajan participated. Number of events based on natural heritage and magic events were organised to highlight the fate of trees. Naveena Jaffa who is an academician and classical dancer on heritage themes and disciple of Pandit Birju maharaj, gave a different shape to the protests and was happy to be the voice of trees through her dance . She performed on the importance of trees as explained in Rig Veda. Her puppeteer magicians performed a skit on the “Save Trees”
Next Sunday 8.7.2018, Chipko programs will be in Dwarka. Green Circle has been asked to organise the events in Dwarka. Green Circle will involve all NGOs and arrange a massive program in Sector 6 market on 8.7.18 Sunday at 5.30 PM. People from all over Delhi are expected to participate. Street plays and sapling holding will be held to highlight the need to save trees. V Selvarajan, Anil Parashar and Deewan Singh are members of the working group of CHIPKO Delhi based at South Delhi






Green Circle files petition with NGT


Aggrieved by the unmindful cutting of 16500 trees under the 7 General Pool Residential  Accommodation (GPRA) project in South Delhi, Green Circle filed its petition with NGT against tree felling  on 29.6.2018. The petition came up for hearing today by Hon’ble Dr. Justice Jawad Rahim vide our Original Application No. 418/2018 (M.A. No. 961/2018) Green Circle Vs. CPWD & Ors. The petition has been listed form admission in NGT on 2.7.2018
Green Circle in its petition highlighted the following issues
1.    Environmental Clearance for the project has ignored the assessment of population density post redevelopment and floating population density. It has not taken into account the vehicular traffic density post redevelopment and the carrying capacity of all the roads around the redevelopment projects ;
2.    Air Pollution The amount of manifold increase in air pollution leading to unprecedented AQI is not addressed. Mega Construction involves Mining, Stone Crashing, Transportation, Batch Mixing, Curing, Grinding , Surface preparation, POP, Spray & Policing etc which leads to increased PM 2.5 and PM 10 level
3.    Ecological imbalance on cutting down large number trees in terms of Oxygen yield, other benefits from trees and how the compensatory plantation of small saplings elsewhere in the ratio of 1:10 will compensate the benefits derived from the existing trees to be chopped ;
4.    Accuracy of data on felling Number of trees to be Cut / Chopped off (As per Env Assessment Report one figure, MOEF&CC is providing some other figure and contradictory figures given by Forest Dept Govt of NCT Delhi LG office has provided
5.    Transplantation of Trees as chances of survival is very poor and 1:10 ratio plantation will not be feasible
6.    Lutyens time tested design The fact that the project area which was developed during 1920s i.e lutyens period (particularly NDMC Areas) has withstood the test of time and is still proudly regarded as one of the finest designs cannot be ignored and what is the need for redevelopment of the same area once again.  
7.    Shift Project elsewhere The Urban Development Ministry /DDA could find alternative location for housing the accommodation of govt. Officials in Delhi or elsewhere.
8.    Water shortage Sufficient availability of Water during construction of the Project and potable Water after construction are not addressed
9.    Power supply Whether extra power required when population in this area will increase manifold and whether more power will be required  in high rise due to additional lifts & water pumps.
10. Landfills we are not having sufficient space for Landfill in Delhi. No other Landfill areas/ Extra capacity in STP have been identified
11. Population Density Delhi & NCR`s existing population density is in comparison to the International Standards based on existing Standards and Norms and if not, how to manage the Projected Population Density.
12. Tree density Present Delhi Tree Density and projected Tree Density (Tree/ Person) are not in comparison to International Standards.
Our Prayer to The Hon`blw Green Tribunal are as stated below ;
a.    Grant an Interim and Ex-Party Stay to all the redevelopment project of all 7 General Pool Residential Accommodation (GPRA).
b.    Restrain CPWD and NBCC from carrying out construction without placing before this Hon`ble Green Tribunal the assessment of parameters stated in our Petition,
c.    Restrain from cutting trees and also direct Respondents to place the study of existing AQI and assessed AQI after chopping of 16,575 trees and impact thereof
d.    Direct Dept of Forest & DPCC to place on record impact assessment on Ecologically Sensitive Areas Around ;
e.    Direct DPCC, NDMC, MoEFCC DJB, CPWD & SDMC to place on record the permission given to CPWD and NBCC for supply of fresh water, Establishment of STP and Drainage
f.     Pass Order to get suitable compensation from the Respondents and if any compensatory deposits were made by the Respondents which are to be forfeited.
g.    Pass an Order for developing Gardens, Parks and Parking Slots or any other social welfare activities in those areas where the Trees has already been chopped in the discretion of Hon`ble Green Tribunal.
h.    A Permanent Policy may be developed and implemented to address that such type of situation may not occur in the near future. 
i.      Pass any other Order(s) as this Hon`ble Green Tribunal think deems fit and proper in the interest of justice.

On hearing our petition, the Honourable court has admitted our petition and passed on the following order 

Notice issued to 12 respondents and status quo passed by high court on 25.6.18 will be maintained and  there will not be any felling of trees till next hearing , that is 19.7.18. 



Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Cut-off branch of one tree could support another tree in ICU !!!

Our first Tree Clinic venture !
I have been receiving a number of requests and suggestions regarding saving trees uprooted or termite infected. Delhi as it is has good coverage of greenery and well grown trees. We need to save existing trees. So Green Circle has made an initiative to save existing trees. Today in Dwarka, we find that many trees are infected with termites. Some trees are affected by parasitic Amer bhel. So we at Green Circle planned  to open a tree clinic and do our best efforts to save trees. Trees have life and they are nowhere less than human beings. We have to protect them as sisters and brothers. The above tree is one such effort to save on Bent tree which is vulnerable to be a victim of next storm. This tree is in DDA PARK NO 7 SECTOR 6 DWARKA where we have already planted 150 trees. Recent storms have uprooted a number of well grown trees. Many uprooted trees were simply removed. If DDA gives us support, we could  replant trees. 

For this particular tree, we have given support by using a broken dead branch of a nearby tree. Some of the major reasons why trees are getting slant is because of compound walls, cementing platforms, construction of drainage etc for trees. Green Circle has started a blog in the name of Green Circle Tree Clinic to collect and post expert opinions and views on the topic
Selvarajan
Green Circle

THE BROKEN BRANCH OF ANOTHER TREE COMES TO ITS SUPPORT

THE SUPPORT WAS GIVEN TO SAVE THE LEANING TREE 

THIS TREE BRANCH WAS CUT OFF IN RECENT STORM, WE HAVE USED IT AS OUR SUPPORT FOR THE LEANING TREE

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dwarkaites join hands to take cleaning as their mission

It's another feather in the cap of Green Circle. A dozen of dedicated Green Circle members assembled this morning at DDA Central Park, Sector 6, Dwarka at a short notice to carry out cleanliness drive. Named as "Mission Clean Dwarka", the members carried out the exercise for an hour, cleaned the entire park area and removed plastic and other non bio degradable waste scattered all over the park. The mission started with the Vipan couple seeking Green Circle’s support to clean the park and get rid of plastic waste. Earlier the Vipan duo who had been carrying out the drive on all Saturdays of their own for the past so many months. Green Circle decided to support the drive and called all to join the cleaning drive. The campaign was spearheaded by Octogenarian Lakhvinder Singh of Green Circle. Going around the park, with mask and gloves, the volunteers made a collection which was 6 sacks full and disposed off the same at Sector 5 Dhalao. During the drive, there were abundant encouragement by a lot of like-minded people who assured of joining us from next week onwards. Some elders appreciated the move while others expressed their condemnation against people who throw plastic in the park. Mr PK Chopra says, “While this is welcome by many, a few others continued their morning walk pretending that they have not seen us. But we are confident that some of them would not throw any waste in the park. And if that happens, it would be achievement of our drive.” Krishnamoorthy was happy to be a part of the drive while IM Khanna felt that he got a mental satisfaction for doing his part to Mother Earth. Green Circle Vice Chairman Anil Parashar said that the mission to clean Dwarka will continue on all Saturdays. Selvarajan Secretary of Green Circle thanking all participants requested the crusaders to join all the ensuing Saturdays in the mission. It is part of Green Circle's objective to protect environment and the drive initiated now would continue.




Sunday, May 13, 2018

Environmental Lecture No 4 - Waste segregation and composting


‘Segregation and composting’ is not an option but a responsibility for every citizen and Government, asserted Madhuri Varshney, an environmental activist and social worker in Dwarka.  Talking on the occasion of the 4th monthly Lecture in its 24 Environmental lecture series organised by Green Circle, she introduced a 2 Bin and One bag method wherein red bin will be used for dry waste while green bin will be used for wet waste. Simultaneously households must maintain a bag for recyclable items. She suggested sending recyclable waste to ragpickers. Further delivering her lecture with a powerpoint presentation on Segregation and Composting, Madhuri of Rise Foundation said that End-to-end segregation must be ensured to manage garbage effectively. She added that it is not only the duty of Government, but every RWA, Society must ensure segregation at source. Dwelling on the lacuna in the system, she said garbage dumps are overflowing and is posing a severe threat to environment as well as people’s health.
She also dealt in details about the composting methods such as aerobic and anaerobic and vermin-composting methods to address the ever-growing organisc waste. She also talked on community composting and explained how her society could successfully enforce composting to dispose horticulture waste. 
Madhuri Varshney making her Presentation on Segregation and Composting 
Nidhi Gupta shared her experience in grinding organic waste in mixer to reuse it as organic compost for the plants grown by her in home garden. Appreciating her work Madhuri insisted that the members could follow her simple technique. Ramesh Murmukshu said that the aim of the people should be zero garbage since incineration of dry wastes or running a compost machine also consumes electricity which is another concern. Romilla Gandhi insisted that SDMC should handle segregated waste properly. Lamenting over the way the segregated waste is dumped in the trucks by SDMC to dump in dhalaus, the participants felt that this is the grey area in waste management. Anil Parashar Chairman of the meeting said that almost daily garbage burning is reported from various locations of Dwarka. Selvarajan Secretary of Green Circle proposed to conduct a seminar of all stake holders to address the issue.  Lamenting over the failure of the SDMC to properly transport the segregated waste, S K Sharma President of the Air force Naval Society also said that their society plans to install Garbage composting machine soon.
The Lecture meet was chaired by Anil Parashar, Vice Chairman of Green Circle. A memento was presented to the Speaker at the end

Pl click on the link below to view the pictures and videos

Photos of the Environmental Lecture

Click on the video for the highlights of lecture


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Integrated water shed management thro traditional water sourcing

For Basant Pandey, a young environmental activist, living in a remote village Danya in District Almora Uttarakhand has never been a deterrent to stop him taking to social activities. When Green Circle came to know about him and watershed management activities of his NGO HIMAL based at Danya and his desire to revive water bodies in his locality, no one believed that he would have in-depth knowledge about the environmental issues. Green Circle members Selvarajan, Anil Parashar, Muralidhar and Ramesh Murmurku decided to take 14 hours journey to take to the villagers.  At Danya, Almora is a remote and otherwise sleeping village HIMAL, a Danya based NGO working for environment and livelihood under the able guidance of Dwarkaite Ramesh Mumukshu, who is an RTI Activist. Ramesh also works for HIV affected patients. On 22nd April, Ramesh and Basant Pandey of HIMAL, Manoj and Om Prakash of Gandhi Peace Foundation and M/s Anila behan and Pushpa Behen of Sava Shakthi planted a Rose plant to mark the Earth Day. After the planting they also conducted a joint meeting to plan out an action program for revival of traditional water bodies called Naula at Swalambhan Bhawan Danya.. HIMAL members expressed their desire to work with Green Circle for taking steps to improve water resources by rejuvenating traditional water sourcing through naula and exploring other sources like Kuan and bavli. Later on, the entire team visited a 400 year old Naula to explore how this traditional water body caters to the need of the rural people. Green Circle has decided to undertake the construction of a naula at Danya supported by HIMAL and other sansthas of Almora district. Green Circle members also visited Sattal near Nainital and conducted Birdwatching