Thursday, September 23, 2010 – (Times City Gurgaon)
Thanks to sustained showers, Gurgaon’s Concrete Jungle Has Turned Refreshingly Green. And Residents Are Taking A Second Look At Their city in Happy Disbelief
The green cover of Gurgaon owes much to the 1064 mm rainfall the district has received so far this year. Officials with the forest department say the rain-engineered greenery this year has added immensely to the total green cover of the city.
“With lakes and ponds full of water, the recharge of groundwater has also improved. This will have a positive impact on trees in the city and also in the Aravlis,” said a forest department official.
And it’s not just forest officials and environmentalists who are upbeat about the new green Gurgaon. People who recently shifted to the city from Delhi too are pleasantly surprised to be in the midst of nature.
The blanket ban on mining activities in the Aravalis has also helped the green patch grow.
“We moved here to get a respite from the crowded Capital. At first, we had deluded ourselves that the authorities would develop large parks next to where we stay. Instead they allowed more construction to take place. But then the rains came and almost overnight we see green everywhere,” said Sudhir Kapoor of DLF-I.
It’s not only the Gurgaon district that has been blessed by the rain gods. Even the areas adjoining the city have received an exceptionally good monsoon, leaving behind Delhi as far as the quantum of rainfall is concerned.
“I shifted to Gurgaon only this year and I like the city very much. As you trek through the Aravalis these days, you come to know how close you are to the nature,” said Anita Malhotra, an environment activist.
She added that it’s high time the administration and government ensured that whatever green cover the city has now developed must be protected, and not be lost to construction activities.
The last Forest Survey of India (FSI) report of 2009 had shown that the total forest cover in Gurgaon had increased by 11 sq km from 218 in 2005 to 229 sq km in 2007. The numbers might improve in the next few years.
…But no credit to government agencies
Gurgaon: That Gurgaon is exploited by builders with commercial interests is no secret, but the government departments too have failed to cover the yards to make the concrete city any greener.
Records available with the forest department suggest that the city is lagging behind miserably on plantation work for the year 2010-2011.
“The plantation work is supposed to be doe ahead of rains. Now, there is little probability that the government agencies will reach anywhere close to their respective targets”
DEVENDAR RAO FOREST OFFICER
According to sources, the forest department prepares a plantation distribution chart for each financial year and all government departments are asked to fill their annual data. The figures for the current year, however, show that barring the school examination department, no other department has reached anywhere close to the set target. A case in point is the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG). The civic body was asked to plant 10.000 trees, of which it planted barely 890 saplings.
The statistics are worse for the Mining department, which was asked to plant 30,000 trees, but planted none.
Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) was given a target of planting 20,000 trees but it managed to polant only 1,600. The education department is, however, a welcome exception having bettered its target by 2,000 saplings. “While the department was asked to plant 70,000 trees it planted 72, 000,” said a senior official with the forest division office.
Officials said in view of the Commonwealth Games this October, there were beautification plans for the city and all departments were sent special requests to comply with the orders.
“Though the plan is for the financial year, the plantation work is supposed to be done ahead of rains. Now, there is little probability that the government agencies will reach anywhere close to their respective targets,” said Devendra Rao, forest range officer.
The official commended the farmers who planted close to 50,000 saplings in the last one year. “They are not given targets, but they have come across as a pleasant surprise. They serve as examples for the government machinery,” he said.
HERE’S HOW CITY CAN IMPROVE THE CONDITION OF BADLY- MAINTAINED GREEN AREAS
Green areas should be fenced and properly manned to check violations
Green belts should be declared protected forest areas and administered by forest laws: Residents complain that most green areas have been lost because of negligence by the administration
Green belts should also be utilized for a rainwater harvesting
Water that collects on roads should be guided to green belts – which should have rainwater harvesting pits- and used to water trees
All utility services should be set up on service lanes and roads instead of green belts. It takes years for these trees to grow. If they are cut down, the patches lose their green cover. An attempt at replantation will be a difficult job considering the population in these areas
There should be stricter laws against the encroachment of green belt areas.