A recent study has found that plantation done under the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) in Indian cities is ineffective due to not being planned. In most cases, either the plantation drive excluded major polluting hotspots or used species that do not absorb pollution.
According to this study conducted by the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), the planning of plantations in cities fails due to the identification of suitable locations or species. The goal of NCAP behind the tree plantation drive in cities is pollution prevention. Nevertheless, this objective remains largely incomplete as cities have failed to prioritize pollution centers such as pollution centers, traffic corridors, and highways.
Pollution centers are ignored The study is based on analysis of Right to Information (RTI) responses from various departments. Plantation sites with centers of pollution were superimposed in six cities: Korba, Hyderabad, Delhi, Agra, Chandigarh and Varanasi. With this, it was found that out of 43 plantations undertaken in Hyderabad, only one was near the pollution hotspot.
Similarly, in Varanasi, one of the most polluted cities in India, 60% of the plantations were in residential areas as against 8% in traffic corrosion. In the case of Chandigarh, parks and community centers were the preferred locations for tree planting, while traffic junctions were abandoned. This approach gives rise to concerns because already green places get more plantations, while vehicular traffic in the city is a major source of pollution.
Bad choice in species In Varanasi, Kanak Champa (Pertospermum acerifolium), Peltophorum (Peltophorum pterocarpum) and Seemul (Bombyx ceiba) have been used in the development of the Green Belt, unless these have been recommended by the Central Pollution Control Board. Cities should move towards the selection of native species that are good for pollutant absorption.
The report says that planting trees alone cannot reduce pollution levels. It added, “Greening of cities should be a well-planned scientific process aimed at pollution control and increasing biodiversity through a mixture of grasses, shrubs and trees.”
Ritvik Dutta, managing trustee of LIFE, says, “Greening of cities in the wrong places and with the wrong species will not reduce pollution. Every city should make the protection of existing trees a first priority, especially in the centers of pollution. Transplantation is not an appropriate answer as the trees will be transplanted from polluted hotspot areas to greener areas. If we simply plant trees without a detailed plan on what to plant and where to plant, then the goal of NCAP will not be met.
Shweta Narayan, Advisor, Healthy Energy Initiative India, states, “Greenbelt is a legal requirement under the EC for industries and is solely the responsibility of the industries. Therefore, if there is a shortage of greenbelt, the units risk EC cancellation and prosecution. But almost all NCAP plants at Korba are near thermal power plants, industries and mines. This means that either the current greenbelt requirement is not being complied with (which is illegal under compliance with the EC condition) or the current greenbelt standard is insufficient to control dust emissions despite full compliance. If so, we need to rethink the NCAP criteria. “
According to the NCAP document, these plantations are to be funded using the Compensatory Afforestation Fund, which is part of the Green India Mission. The mission is part of India’s nationally determined contribution to the Paris Agreement, and plans to add five million hectares of forest / tree cover over 10 years.
key findings: · More than 50% of the plantation in Korba is in the vicinity of thermal power plant, while there are no plantations in the city pollution centers such as traffic junctions. In particular, it is the project proponent’s responsibility to develop a greenbelt around the power plant.
Out of 43 plantation areas in Hyderabad, only one plantation area is in polluted hotspots, while the rest are in moderately polluted or less polluted areas.
Delhi has ignored hotspots in Dwarka, Mundka, Narela and Bawana in favor of central and eastern parts of the city.
Despite being a major pollution source of vehicular pollution, Chandigarh continued to plant in parks and parks instead of junctions and roads.
Out of the total 25 plantation locations in Varanasi, 60% are in residential areas, compared to only 8% in the vicinity of traffic hubs and junctions.
No plantation work has been done in Guwahati. Even the plantation plan, which details the work to be done and their deadlines, has not been described. This NCAP