HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Delhi govt assures it will not build road inside wildlife sanctuary

Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 30, 2013
First Published: 18:39 IST(30/9/2013) | Last Updated: 01:37 IST(1/10/2013)

The Delhi government on Monday assured the National Green Tribunal that it will not go ahead with its plan to build a road through the Capital's lone wildlife sanctuary.

"The counsel appearing for Delhi government submits no construction will be done in Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. Interim orders (to stay any construction) will continue till October 28, when the matter would be heard next," the tribunal said.

The tribunal on September 4 had ordered an interim stay on a road stretch proposed to be constructed in the sanctuary in Delhi's southern ridge. The September order came after HT on August 19 published a report that the Public Works Department wanted to build a road through the sanctuary.

No construction can take place inside a wildlife sanctuary without permission from the national board for wildlife.

The tribunal on Monday also asked amicus curiae Raj Panjwani, who assists courts in conservation issues, to file a petition against Delhi government's failure to protect the ridge. Panjwani had earlier pointed out the Ridge Management Board (RMB) had allowed the constant shrinking of the forest. A petition from the amicus curiae will allow the tribunal to hear the matter as a case and pass orders.

The government is the biggest requisitioner of forest land for infrastructure projects. And Delhi's chief secretary, who is the government's senior-most bureaucrat, heads the RMB.

HT had on September 10 reported that environmentalists felt he was often a judge in his own cause, making the board a land diversion agency. 

As reported by HT on September 9, Panjwani had told the tribunal that the Delhi government had picked a 7.1-acre patch of the ridge at Chattarpur to build a hospital, and has asked the RMB for clearance. The RMB is likely to discuss the matter within a couple of weeks.

Panjwani on Monday informed the tribunal: "RMB under its constitution has no right to divert forest land. All such proposals should go to the Forest Advisory Committee of the union ministry of environment and forests."

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