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Updated: March 24, 2012 13:16 IST

Protected trash

Sohail Hashmi
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Not too long ago parts of the Capital's ridge forest were declared a protected forest. The declaration did not come a day too early, as a large part of the meager forest cover in Delhi had already been encroached upon and the declaration has not prevented people from hacking away at the trees, when no one is looking. And most of the time no one is.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary our authorities in general and the forest department in particular seem to have a strange faith in the power of their own proclamations. Heaps of stone overnight turn into pracheen (ancient) temples or mausoleums of highly venerated and hitherto unheard of sufis, gurdwaras, schools that cater to the progeny of the high and mighty. Not to be left behind, the Army continues to occupy large tracts of forest land and no action is initiated.

The forest will protect itself, not to worry. The DDA has been asked to look after some stretches of the scattered bits of the protected ridge forest as in the case of the stretch opposite Jawaharlal Nehru University. But what is going on in one corner, a large corner at that, of the protected forest, most imaginatively called Sanjay Van, makes one wonder.

This part has been turned into a rubbish dump. This is a tried and tested method. Start dumping rubbish on a piece of land, everyone leaves, stray dogs, pigs, crows, pariah kites and rag pickers arrive. After a while land use is changed, no one notices.

All this is happening at this very moment inside Sanjay Van. With Jawarlal Nehru University to your right, cross the snazzy bridge built in the name of the Commonwealth Games -- the bridge that has almost killed Neela Hauz Lake -- look out for the break in the boundary wall of Sanjay Van to your left, opposite streetlight numbers HKSK300 and HKSK301 and walk through the gap following the trail of rags, rubbish and plastic, You will reach this at least five-year-old rubbish dump. Can all this be going on without the knowledge, connivance and complicity of the DDA staff?

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