New Delhi: On Off Centre this week, Anuradha SenGupta interacts with naturalist and the author of popular book ‘Trees of Delhi’, Pradip Krishen. In a freewheeling conversation, the environmentalist discusses whether these protests are stray incidents or if the changed mind-set of people will actually affect government policies. Recently, the citizens of Sarojini Nagar and other areas in Delhi took on the authorities by protesting and saving 16000 trees from being razed to the ground.
Discussing the reason for protests, Krishen said, “I think people are as shocked as I am. They are not necessarily tree lovers but they are just shocked that trees can be ignored to the extent that they were by people who had set squares and T squares in their hands and didn’t give a damn about what was happening to the trees.”
Talking about that whether or not the protests are going to make administration more responsive he said, “Look at what happened with this little incident. It started with just a few people- started with some RWS, started with some very dynamic people galvanising larger groups of people. Then these people sat up and listened and they went to the courts and the courts listened. Thereafter, the courts have rapped the government on the knuckles, so it works and once you see it working you can then, strategically make things work in such a way that you actually have a stake in the planning process.”
While talking about the compensation of the trees that are already cut, he said “It is deemed to be okay to compensate for that loss of forest by planting x number of times of those many trees. What actually happens in practice is that when you have a living wilderness, it is a community, it is not an individual tree, it is a community of plants, its microbes in the soil, you cannot recreate that easily.”
Mentioning the horticultural establishments in the capital city he said, “The other sad thing is that I am very down on the horticultural establishments that you have in Delhi and the kind of expertise and knowledge that they bring to their works whether it MCD or the NDMC or the Cantonment Board or the DDA or the CPWD.”
He added,“And the Indian Forest Department don’t do much planting, in the municipal way, but if we had really good municipal horticulture departments, some of this could be redressed but they don’t know their stuff.They depend entirely on the species that are available in nurseries that tend to be mostly ornamental.It is very sad.”
Off Centre will be telecasted this Saturday 14th July at 10:00 PM with repeats on Sunday at 10:30 AM and 7:30 PM, on CNN-News18 .