New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the city government to give details of the actual forest area in the capital, observing that the extent of green cover as shown on paper is "not the true picture".
A bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva also asked the Delhi government what it was doing to maintain the current green cover as well as to increase it to 30 per cent as required under the master plan 2021.
The court also observed that a major polluter in the city was particulate matter from building material and 'malba' (rubble) that is left lying around, adding that increase in green area would result in less dust flying around and more rains.
The bench made the observation after the Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, present in court pursuant to its order, said as per forest department records Delhi has green cover of 20.8 per cent which was commendable as the city was the third greenest capital in the country.
However, he admitted that the forest areas were being encroached and also said that till the boundaries of such land are not finally demarcated it would be difficult to take any action.
The official and the city government counsel, however, differed on whether an increase in number of trees would result in a proportional reduction in air pollution.
While the official said increase in trees would bring down air pollution, Delhi government counsel Raman Duggal said it would not be a significant decrease on account of there being other pollutants, like particulate matter and noxious fumes of sulphur and nitrogen oxides, in the atmosphere.
"What emerges is that extent of forest shown on paper is not the true picture. We want to know how much on paper is there in reality. We also want to know what are you doing to maintain and increase what you have since as per master plan forest cover has to be 30 per cent," the court said.
During the hearing, the court asked the city government whether any wildlife was left in the Ridge as a result of building boundaries around the forest area as well as encroachments there and remarked, "the city is full of animals, but the forest does not have any".
The court asked the city government to give details of the forest cover in the capital along with geo-spatial maps.