New Delhi - The State of the Green City

In the capital of India, Moghul monuments meet British architectural rationalism. An immense megalopolis formed by two very diverse cities. Old Delhi has its colorful bazaars and New Delhi is the modern and verdant center of power. Among the lakes in Delhi, the artificial Sanjay Lake is one of the neighborhoods in Delhi that attracts most visitors.

Delhi was already a green city when the British occupied India. They wanted to make the capital of the Indian empire a haven of greenery. But, Indian economic development threatens the ecological balance of New Delhi. Today, in the literal sense of the word, New Delhi is a green city.

The landscape of the capital has changed over the past fifteen years. The trees that line each road of Delhi and the many parks allow the city to breathe. Vegetation occupies about one-fifth of the territory of Delhi. Between 2001 and 2017 the city has gained more than 15,000 hectares of greenery.

Thus, it is possible to see real forests in the heart of Delhi. In Sanjay Van, the wildlife has an urban home. Any construction is not allowed in these forests since 1996.

To cut down a tree in the capital, it is necessary to ask the Delhi Forest Department. Above all one have to get the consent of those who live around. It is necessary to pay the equal of replanting 10 trees. This explains why there are still a lot of trees along the streets of Delhi. It may even happen that a tree has grown in the middle of a road without getting cut down!

Individual vehicles account for the largest share of particulate matter emissions. CNG has helped a lot in curbing vehicular pollution in Delhi.

Waste represents a growing health and environmental hazard. The treatment of waste has got more organized through the municipality. There are incinerators dedicated to sorting waste that is then recycled. Thanks to those, these recyclers also contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

The battery operated vehicles are a non-polluting and environment-friendly mode of transport. It is also one of the cheapest means of transport. We can reach from one point to another, local markets, train stations and bus terminals. It allows us to travel short distances through narrow lanes inaccessible by cars.

The new and efficient Delhi Metro has also gone a long way to curb pollution. It also helps us in visiting places much more faster than in the past. There are also solar panels that power lights, fans and display systems inside trains.

In recent years we have also seen improvements through a sustained anti-firecracker campaign. The appeals for a more environment-friendly Green Diwali is working. As a result, this festival now makes breathing a little easy throughout the city.

We have seen initiatives that attest to an emerging ecological awareness. Of course, there is still a long way to go. The development process has to integrate with the environment. The local communities have to be at the center of the decision mechanisms.

A moderate transition is underway with a close relationship between ecology and culture. People are realizing more about their ancestral way of life. The young generation has an inherent respect for nature and biodiversity. It is a valuable example for the future development of a model of development. We have to be more respectful of nature by better sharing of resources and knowledge.

The temptations may be great. Be attentive to the beauty of each day, every new morning, to this prodigious world. It is a wonderful world with nature, and with all the living beings of this earth. What is our relationship with all this - with trees, birds, with all the living things we call nature? Are we not part of it all? Are we not the environment? Real reforms do not begin outside of oneself.
Kalyan Panja