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Delhi Group Vows to Save Trees in Environmental Armageddon

Armageddon is happening now – deforestation and ecological devastation is an indication of what the future may hold.

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‘Armageddon’ has become synonymous with the blockbuster Hollywood film in which an asteroid hurtling towards the earth threatens catastrophe in 18 days, and the hope of saving the planet falls upon an ordinary oil driller, Harry Stamper.

Indeed today, the ordinary citizens of Delhi have taken up cudgels to save the severely afforested residential areas in New Delhi that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoUHA) is ‘redeveloping’ with its builder wing, National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), for government General Pool Residential Accommodation (GPRA), a facade for commercialising the prime land in the heart of Delhi.

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Disbelieving citizens have come out to protest the magnitude of the devastation unleashed by the NBCC, which is felling vibrant and healthy trees of seven GPRA colonies, in ‘redevelopment’ by an avaricious and complicit administration.

Armageddon is happening now – deforestation and the consequent ecological devastation is an indication of what the future may hold.
Armageddon is happening now – deforestation and ecological devastation is an indication of what the future may hold.
Armageddon is happening now – deforestation and ecological devastation is an indication of what the future may hold.

Armageddon is defined as “a dramatic and catastrophic conflict, especially one seen as likely to destroy the world or the human race” seems to be happening right here and right now.

The Birth of ‘Delhi Trees SOS’

‘Delhi Trees SOS’, a movement to save the trees of Delhi, gave concerned and socially responsible citizens a common platform to protest against tree genocide. A love of trees and saving them from the saws of the greedy and uncaring building behemoth NBCC became its mantra and mission. The might of a small group against the State was succinctly put across by Margret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

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It has almost been a year since ‘Delhi Trees SOS’ came together and it remains a loose nexus of people, each bringing with them their own areas of expertise and enriching the group.

The ‘Delhi Trees SOS’ movement began by petitioning to ministries of the central government – Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) as the permission- giving and implementing ministries respectively.

‘Delhi Trees SOS’ attempted to engage with the central government in a civilised dialogue only to be thwarted by disparaging remarks; the concerned Minister dismissed the citizens as mere ‘mischief mongers’.

When ‘Delhi Trees SOS’ Moved Towards Judicial Intervention

Petitioning to the government seemed to lead either into the garbage or the archives of a cavernous ministry, and the government’s indifference in the face of a growing crisis brought to light its famed ability to look the other way. After entreaties failed to have the slightest impact, ‘Delhi Trees SOS’ sought judicial intervention. It triumphed against the tree genocide when the court ordered the layout plans to be sent back to the drawing boards for reconsideration.

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Wednesday, 5 June, marked a year since the inception of ‘Delhi Trees SOS’, coinciding with World Environment Day.

5 June as World Environment Day serves to increase awareness about environmental protection, but this year, its point was reversed in every possible way – a visit to one of the seven residential areas being ‘redeveloped’ bore witness to the children of Delhi protesting with the members of ‘Delhi Trees SOS’ in Sarojni Nagar – the scale of destruction, of trees, arboreal creatures and buildings, gave the area a sense of doom and gloom; almost a prophetic look at the imminent Armageddon.

Armageddon is happening now – deforestation and ecological devastation is an indication of what the future may hold.
Armageddon is happening now – deforestation and ecological devastation is an indication of what the future may hold.

The Legal Battle Continues...

The legal battle continues as the government and their official builder, NBCC, stay hell- bent on flouting environmental laws, with little regard for air pollution, rapidly depleting ground water levels and increased traffic loads.

‘Delhi Trees SOS’, meanwhile, continues its campaign in courts, streets, social and print media and works to increase awareness through interactive fine arts.

Armageddon is here and now; we have 18 days before doomsday, and the Harry Stampers of Delhi are fighting with all their might as the state machinery tries to drive them into corners.

Will David’s slingshot hit Goliath in the eye and bring the mighty state down?
Only time will tell!

(Rajeev Suri is an environmental activist and petitioner in various legal matters related to the environment and urbanisation. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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