Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Friday said the city government will work with neighbouring states and agencies concerned to prepare in advance to deal with the issue of poor air quality due to stubble burning in winters.
The minister made the remarks at the launch of a 17-day mega plantation drive from ITO Nursery.
Thirty-one lakh saplings will be planted under the campaign “Plant Saplings, Save Environment” with the objective of increasing the national capital’s green cover and reducing pollution.
The plantation drive is expected to increase the city’s green cover from 325 square kilometre at present to 350 sq km by 2021, which will help reduce air pollution. The period will be observed as “Vrikshaaropan Pakhavaada”.
“We will work with neighbouring States and all environment-related committees to prepare in advance to deal with the issue of air pollution due to stubble burning in winter months,” the minister said.
Stubble burning in the rice bowl of Haryana and Punjab is a major reason behind the toxic haze that shrouds the national capital in winters every year.
He said the government has set a target of planting 20 lakh saplings of big trees and 11 lakh saplings of small trees and shrubs.
“The Centre has set a target of planting 15 lakh saplings in Delhi. We will plant more than double of that,” the environment minister said. Various departments of the Delhi government will plant nearly 18,000 saplings. The Delhi Development Authority will plant around nine lakh saplings and all the MCDs and NDMC will plant around 2.5 lakh saplings. As many as 29.37 lakh saplings were planted in Delhi in 2019 against the target of 24.18 lakh.
The Delhi forest department has 14 nurseries across the city where plants will be provided free of cost, the minister said.
“Those who want to play a role in saving the environment can procure the saplings from these nurseries,” he said.
In its “Guarantee Card” released before the Assembly elections, the AAP government had promised to plant two crore saplings in the city in the next five years. He said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia will participate in the campaign at the nursery on July 13.
Ministers Kailash Gehlot, Rajendra Pal Gautam, Imran Hussain and Satyendar Jain as well as Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel will also participate in it on July 15, July 17, July 20, July 22 and July 24, respectively. All 70 MLAs in Delhi will conclude the plantation drive in their areas on July 26, the minister said.