Delhi Tree Transplantation Policy 2020
The Delhi Government has been committed to the preservation of trees and increasing the green cover of Delhi. Besides filtering air pollutants, fighting erosion, providing oxygen, and recharging groundwater, trees support all life forms. In order to strengthen the regulations for the preservation of trees, in early 2019, the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi (DDC) held wide-ranging consultations with environmental experts and officials from the Forest Department, GNCTD, to draft the first-ever Tree Transplantation Policy for Delhi. Detailed rules and process guidelines for undertaking tree transplantation were drafted under relevant provisions of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, and submitted to the Forest Department.
After carrying out an extensive public consultation on the Draft Tree Transplantation Policy by the Forest Department and incorporating the relevant feedback, the policy was approved by the Delhi Cabinet in October 2020 and notified in December 2020.
- No tree shall be removed under development projects unless absolutely necessary.
- A minimum of 80% of trees affected by a project, over and above compensatory afforestation of planting of 10 saplings, will be transplanted.
- The implementation of this policy will be in addition to the policy of the compulsory afforestation of 10 saplings.
- Tree transplantation shall be carried out only by agencies empanelled by the Forest Department who have the expertise and experience of successfully carrying out scientific tree transplantation.
- The agencies which are responsible for transplantation must ensure that 80% of the transplanted trees survive after a year.
- The payment of the agencies is linked to the tree-survival rate. Payment will be made only if 80% of the trees continue to survive after a year.
- Physical tagging of all trees and geo-tagging are to be conducted.
- Social audits have also been mandated for regular monitoring and ensuring strong checks and balances.
- Appropriate transplant procedures were put in place and firms were empanelled after the policy was passed.
- A Tree Transplantation Cell was constituted by the Delhi Government under this policy, which monitors the transplantation of trees and the transplanted trees.
The implementation of the Delhi Tree Transplantation Policy 2020 has brought a radical shift in policy regarding the issue of the removal of trees to create space for the construction. As of June 2022, the Delhi government had given approval for over 80 projects where trees were affected for which the Forest and Wildlife Department has ensured that 80 percent of those trees are transplanted at suitable places.
Based on reports from the relevant department and empanelled agencies, it has been determined that different departments and agencies have varying survival rates when it comes to tree transplantation. The average survival rate of trees has been found to be between 50 and 55 percent. At the same time, 220 trees were transplanted in the park located at Mayur Vihar, whose survival rate is 86 percent.
Two key reasons have emerged for the low survival rate of transplanted trees viz.
- In some cases, the soil conditions at the transplanted site are not favourable for the tree.
- Some plant species like guava and neem do not respond well after transplantation.
To further improve the success of the Tree Transplantation Policy, the following decisions were taken by the Environment Minister in May 2022:
- The Forest Research Institute, Dehradun will independently audit the tree transplantation performed by the departments that have received approval for tree transplantation thus far.
- No files related to any department that does not submit their respective reports to the Forest Department will be approved for any further construction work.
- Any empanelled agencies that do not perform tree-transplantation work optimally will be blacklisted.