Commonwealth Games 2010: The real-estate and environment SCAM
1. Games village: Delhi's death trap
2. Games village: Flouting ALL environmental laws
3. Games village: Sitting duck for disaster
4. Games village: The REAL estate SCAM
5. INTERVIEW with Sheila Dikshit: 'Delhi should be second to none' (at what cost?)
From the blog: Parvinder's Space
As the National Capital prepares to usher in the New Year, the year that steps into the past will be remembered most for the massacre of thousands of trees of Delhi that have seen many New Years come and go.
An unofficial count of the trees felled in the past four to five years is estimated to be around 40,000, the official figures are not forthcoming and vary as per the individual departments. However, the felling in the year 2007 was the most brazen and painful, as the chainsaw drew closer and closer into the very heart of the city's green lungs, with the trees planted when the capital was envisioned, and some even older, were cleared for the High Capacity Bus Service (HCBS) corridors and road-widening.
The needs of a "transport plan" to see the light of the day made the Delhi Government sacrifice its green heritage, even at the cost of losing its most recognised character and rejecting concerns of eminent citizens, who rallied together through a petition against the felling
But the outcry against slaughter of old neighbourhood trees was answered by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, heading a government that up to now has projected a strong green image, by stating that the trees will have to go and the citizens of Delhi will have to sooth themselves with images of planned sapling plantations on the outskirts of the National Capital Territory.
Many present at the meeting kept fumbling for an answer to the question of what happens to our neighbourhood trees, right where we live?
The meeting with the Delhi Chief Minister was a high point for a citizen's forum, "Trees for Delhi", that sprung up almost spontaneously and grabbed media attention through very visible candlelight vigils at traffic intersections along the route of the proposed HCBS.
The trees of Delhi, gained a voice and the attention shifted to the neighbourhood trees. From housewives, to students and from the local vendors to academics, all began reacting through various platforms. A singular demand that was raised by this very diverse movement was "Plan around the trees and not without them".
While the chainsaw massacre continued in the capital, surveys were done by volunteers to show that the trees were being felled and chocked unbated as the planners, officials and contractors saw them as dispensable items in a city starved for space. The markings were wrong, trees were being cut mistakenly, machine were ramming into the exposed roots of those still left.
Remember the headline grabbing incident of 1,000 trees to be axed for a rugby match? For those who are willing to axe thousand trees without a blink for an exhibition match, trees have little meaning, global warming or not.
Different parts of the city started witnessing silent residents suddenly step out to claim the ownership of the city's green space. Retired civil servants and housewives started informing press and demanding answers. Some even physically stopped the felling, forcing the contractors to seek the cover of the dark to pace up the massacre.
The debate of transport versus trees was resurrected, by transport planners, who so far have failed in offering any hopes of a usable mass transport on the roads of Delhi. Trees of Delhi became, enemy of the grand plan for a seamless flow of cars and buses that will run on a platform one day.
A conversation between those talking for the trees and those cutting them never really took-off, as the planners never believed that the trees ever had a chance. Call it the death of reason or something deeper, while thousands of trees were cut this year, and many more will continue to be felled, we will wait a long while to see the strange and deadly diversions on Delhi roads to metamorphose the Capital into a world class city one day.