NEW DELHI—Here in India’s capital, the government has taken protecting trees to a new level.
They’ve created a toll-free hotline so residents can alert authorities if trees are being cut, uprooted, or harmed. The “Tree Helpline” gets 20–25 calls every day.
“The public eye is the best extension for the prevention of felling of trees. And the public eyes required a single [phone] number, a single window where they could give us the information,” said Tarun Coomar, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in the Delhi Government. His office runs the Helpline.
His Helpline desk takes down public complaints and then passes them to various local offices that inspect the trees—and take the necessary action to save them.
Desk officials often get complaints when an underground cable, water pipes, or Internet lines might uproot a tree. They also get calls about people pruning or chopping down trees.
Delhi is the most air-polluted city in the world, according to a recent report by the World Heath Organization. That’s all the more reason why saving trees is a high priority.
“Look at the levels of pollution that we have. Trees are the only hope for Delhiites. And in order to increase the greenery, we had to prevent damage to the trees. Who better than the public themselves!” said Coomar.
Delhi’s laws make it mandatory to plant ten new trees for every one tree cut. But heavy infrastructure development leaves little vacant land for new trees to be planted. Thus, the government emphasizes tree protection.
The Helpline is also serving as a warning for those wanting to cut or harm trees. They fear being caught by someone in the public and reported to Helpline.
In addition to the Tree Helpline, New Delhi also has a “Tree Ambulance” run by its Municipal Corporation. The Tree Ambulance is like a doctor on wheels; it treats trees whenever they are threatened by termites, bees, or infections.