Design a site like this with
Get started



As a group of more than 100 men, women and children planted saplings close to the Yamuna river in Delhi to celebrate the nation’s 75th independence day on the 14th of August 2022, they could not help but wonder as to why the government is diluting laws and plans which is in turn negatively affecting their quality of life.

“Delhi-NCR is one of the most polluted and water stressed regions of India. We cannot understand why the NCR Draft Plan 2041 has dropped the target, ‘total forest cover proposed to be 10% of the total area of the region’ of the NCR Regional Plan 2021? Area under forests has also declined from 4.02% reported in NCR Regional Plan 2021 to 3.27% in the Draft Plan 2041.This is very disturbing when climate action demands that the government should have doubled this forest cover target to 20 percent” said Jagdeesh Chaudhary, President of Green India Foundation Trust which organised the plantation drive.

“Today, citizens planted more than 110 saplings of fruit bearing trees such as lemon, guava, ber etc to provide for food for the bird, insect, mammal biodiversity that thrives on the Yamuna river’s floodplains. We want to convey to the government that as people who work for our rivers and other natural ecosystems, we are extremely upset that the NCR Draft Plan 2041 has dropped the coverage of tributaries and flood plains from its ambit as the rivers along with its tributaries and their flood plains are all crucial for water security of India’s National Capital Region and the protection of the riverine floodplain habitat and biodiversity. Our plans and policies need to strengthen protection for all our rivers and their entire ecosystems,” added Ashok Upadhyay who has been working on cleaning the Yamuna river and afforesting areas close by for the past 2 decades.

NCR Regional Plan 2021 which is currently in force includes rivers, their tributaries and their flood plains in the ‘Natural Conservation Zone’ and has even named some rivers such as Yamuna, Ganga, Kali, Hindon and Sahibi. The NCR Plan 2021 is crystal clear that all Aravallis, forest areas and all water bodies are to be included in the ‘Natural Conservation Zone’ (NCZ). “The relevant description of NCZ in the NCR Regional Plan 2021 is as follows: The major natural features identified as environmentally sensitive areas are the extension of Aravalli ridge in Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi, forest areas, the rivers and tributaries of Yamuna, Ganga, Kali, Hindon and Sahibi, sanctuaries, major lakes and water bodies such as Badkal lake, Suraj Kund and Damdama in Haryana Sub-region and Siliserh lake in Rajasthan etc. These areas have been demarcated as Natural Area Conservation Zone in the Regional Plan-2021,” said Vikrant Tongad, an environmentalist from Noida who was present at the plantation site.

“One of the major objections to the new NCR Draft Plan 2041 is the replacement of ‘Natural Conservation Zone’ with ‘Natural Zone’. According to the new Plan 2041, the ‘Natural Zone’ will comprise natural features such as mountains, hills, rivers, water bodies and forests which are notified for conservation under central or state laws and recognized as such in land records which would exclude more than 70% of the natural ecosystems and open them for real estate, urbanisation etc. To mark our protest and solidarity with our forests and natural ecosystems that sustain us, citizens are collecting in different green areas across India’s National Capital Region spread across 25 districts in 4 states. Our group has also uploaded a letter to the Prime Minister on the PMO public grievance portal via the “Write to PM’ option regarding our concerns about this regressive plan. As we celebrate our nation’s independence day, we hope that our elected leaders will listen to the voices of the people as we still have faith in the democracy called India,” said Neelam Ahluwalia, Founder Member of the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement.


On the 27th of August 2022, the Sanjay Van Forest in Qutub Institutional Area saw residents from across Delhi and NCR cities descend upon it to express their love and solidarity towards their green areas which will be wiped out by the ill-conceived NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041. The group hiked for 2 hours exploring the beauty of Sanjay Van and participated in a plogging session to clean up the forest with Ripu Daman Bevli, popularly known as the Plogman of India.

“We started the morning with some light exercises and then people did some jogging and picked up trash along the way. The air quality in Delhi-NCR is so poor all year around that it is critical for us to preserve the little forest cover that we have left and to increase it so people can continue to keep enjoying the outdoors. Any plan made for India’s National Capital Region needs to have a tangible forest cover target and must preserve every inch of existing forest land. My work as the Plogging Ambassador of India is to bridge the gap between citizens and authorities to work together for the larger good. Inclusivity of all sectors of society is the only way forward. After all, we all breathe the same air, whether it is citizens or the policy makers,” said Ripu Daman Bevli. The group collected 10 bags of trash and about 50 kgs of single use plastic items thrown around the forest which were later handed over to the Delhi government’s dry waste collection vehicle.

The group came across a beautiful water body in Sanjay Van and felt sad about what its future would be. “How can the government make a plan which says that only waterbodies created by acts of nature will be protected? There are so many johads, lakes and ponds which are made by people and play a critical role in water recharge and for cattle and wildlife to quench their thirst,” asked Ayana Chaudhary, a grade 10 student.  

Anayra, a young 7-year-old girl saw many birds and butterflies during her walk in the forest and wondered about the fate of all the creatures big and small that call the forest their “Home” and expressed hope that the authorities would show kindness towards these voiceless inhabitants of the forest and take back any and every plan that threatens their lives.

“Ecologists, conservationists, environment organisations should be invited to be part of the forum that makes plans that affect citizens’ right to life. It is time to make ecological conservation a central part of our urban planning,” said Sameexa Sud, a college student and member of the Students 4 Aravallis team.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: