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Forest Dept Experiencing Trouble Implementing HC Order to Drug Company to Plant 1.4 Lakh Trees: Report

Two local commissioners appointed by the high court reported that the ridge topography is rocky with very thin top soil and there is space for only 3,500 saplings of deciduous indigenous variety.

PTI

Updated:June 7, 2019, 8:56 PM IST
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Forest Dept Experiencing Trouble Implementing HC Order to Drug Company to Plant 1.4 Lakh Trees: Report
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New Delhi: AAP government's forest department is finding it difficult to ensure compliance with the Delhi High Court direction to a drug company to plant 1.4 lacs saplings on the central ridge here, claiming the terrain and topography of the area would not support plantation in such large numbers.

According to a report by two local commissioners appointed by the court, the department has claimed that the ridge topography is rocky with very thin top soil and there is space for only 3,500 saplings of deciduous indigenous variety.

The high court's order to plant 1.4 lacs saplings came on a plea filed by the pharma major Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) seeking contempt action against Venkatanarayana Active Ingredients Pvt Ltd, formerly Nutra Specialities Pvt Ltd, for breach of judicial orders to not manufacture and sell diabetes medication under the brand names used by MSD.

After the Indian pharma company admitted to the breach of the court orders and apologised for it, Justice Najmi Waziri had imposed a cost of Rs 80 lacs on it to be utilised for the "larger public good".

The court directed that the amount be spent on creating a larger green area in and around the city by planting of 1.4 lacs trees in the central ridge area.

It had appointed two local commissioners to inspect the plantation work and file a report.

According to the report, the forest department has said that due to the poor top soil, the roots of the trees would be unable to go down and would instead spread laterally at a shallow level up to a span of 30-40 feet distance to support a tree, which could grow up to a height of 20-30 feet.

Watering them would also be an issue as procurement of water, access to interior locations of the ridge forest and getting manpower for the task was difficult, the department told the commissioners when they went to inspect the plantation location.

The department suggested changing of the location from the central ridge to the Yamuna floodplains, claiming it was a much more fertile area which would support such large number of saplings.

The local commissioners, in their report, further noted that the forest department later identified locations along the ridge's boundary wall close to the road for planting 1,500 saplings, so that watering them would be easier, and space for 2,000 more has been shortlisted.

The commissioners have also said that the sample saplings were not numbered so that supervision could be effective and there was no detail of the type of tree being planted.

The report has suggested that since there is only a plan in place to plant 3,500 trees, the forest department needs to show an alternative plan for afforestation and strengthening of the ridge as is stated to have been made.

The plan also needs to indicate the maximum number of trees which can be planted in the central ridge, the report has said adding that the forest department may seek modification of the court order if it was facing difficulty in complying with it.

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