Leafing out for Sunderlal Bahuguna’s Chipko movement, thousands of Delhiites joined the green movement by symbolically hugging trees and tying green ribbons on them – as a protest to save 16500 trees from cutting flat down – as proposed by the Central government for redevelopment plans in south Delhi.

While India’s capital city is gasping for breath amid extreme smoke, smog and air pollution, the Central government’s Forest Department had permitted the proposal of cutting down nearly 16500 grown trees for redevelopment of central government residential quarters in South Delhi. All these trees had to be cut down from areas including Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar and Sarojini Nagar. The Centre’s permit to chop off trees had led to major controversies and environment activists have been intensely protesting to save the 16500 trees that are the lungs of the gasping megacity.

In a bid to save the trees, a series of different protests had sparked up – around 100 protesters gathered up on street of Sarojini Nagar – holding placards with slogans like ‘Mujhe Mat Maaro’, ‘Don’t cut down a life’, ‘NBCC ke log aaye ped kaatne mere gaon mein, thak kar baith gaye ped ki chhaon mein’ to save trees. Started with just 100 people, the word spread like wild fire with social media trends like #SaveDelhi, #DelhiTreeSOS and #SaveTreesSaveDelhi. On Sunday, thousands of green activists flocked up under the new Delhi Trees SOS campaign banner to save the 16500 trees in South Delhi. The protestors symbolically hugged trees and tied green coloured ribbons to trees – pledging to protect them from felling order by the government – Delhi’s own kind of ‘Chipko Movement’.

The green protests in Delhi were joined by AAP leaders Raghav Chaddha and Saurabh Bharadwaj and Minister Imran Hussain; and the Delhi Trees SOS campaign that will continue for another week will be joined by celebrities like stand-up comedian and environmentalist Vasu Primlani, Adil Hussain and Swara Bhasker in coming days. Although the Centre has assure to grow a new tree sapling for every tree that is cut down – it is a no-no for a city that’s one of the most-polluted in the world. Because a single tree provides oxygen enough for five people, so if 16500 trees are chopped off, it will leave 82,500 people devoid of pure oxygen to breath; and Delhi, at no cost, can afford such a loss. Also, it is not just about trees, because years old trees, it is about the entire ecosystem that thrives on it, the insects the birds the animals. Afforestation is not a replacement for deforestation, stopping deforestation is the solution. Go green Delhi.