New Delhi: Construction of Delhi Metro's rapidly expanding network, which has breached the 200 km milestone recently, has resulted in the felling of over 40,000 trees till date while nearly 4 lakh saplings have been planted to compensate the loss.
The figures assume significance in the light of Delhi High Court's observation that the "magnitude" of trees cut by Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for various projects has led to rise of air pollution in Delhi.
During its Phase I and Phase II construction, Metro had obtained permission to cut a total of 38,958 tress. It actually fell 31,855 trees, according to official data.
A DMRC document, 'Environmental Policy, A way Forward', says that for its ongoing Phase III construction, that will add another 140 km to its network, Metro has the permission to fell 16,001 trees of which over 14,000 trees have already been cut.
The court had sought reports from DMRC and PWD on April 15 this year after amicus curiae Kailash Vasudev had stated that the two authorities have cut over one lakh fully grown trees in the past eight years.
To compensate for the losses post Phase I and Phase II construction, forest department has planted 3,44,251 saplings and transplanted 6,636 trees.
"They have the potential to sequester approximately 55,11,650 kg of carbon dioxide and produce more than 1 crore kg oxygen annually," the document says.
Metro officials say they have take "special care" in protection of existing trees in construction areas under which all trees within boundary of DMRC construction sites are protected by barricading their 1 m periphery.