The interim stay on the road-widening project in Vasant Kunj, which was mired in controversy because of illegal felling of trees, has been extended till May 8.
Hearing a petition filed by Sonya Ghosh, a resident of the South Delhi colony, the National Green Tribunal had earlier stayed the project till April 29.
During the last hearing on April 9, the forest department said the public works department (PWD) felled trees without permission. But the PWD on Monday denied having done so. The PWD said pictures and news reports submitted by the petitioner were “not authentic”.
“The tribunal, however, said evidence suggests there have been violations. It asked the agency how it will make up for the damage done. On this, the PWD sought time. It will file a reply by May 8,” said Parul Gupta, lawyer for the petitioner.
“When the forest department said trees were felled illegally, the PWD didn’t appear. Now when the PWD has denied the charge, the forest department didn’t appear. Why this hide and seek?” asked the petitioner. The tribunal has asked the forest department to place on record its stand in the form of an affidavit.
In response to a right to information (RTI) application filed by Hindustan Times, the forest department had admitted that 39 trees were felled and pruned without permission. It also admitted to registration of police complaints. The RTI reply said the PWD had in two applications sought felling of 167 trees, permission for which was denied.
During the last hearing, the tribunal warned the Delhi government of strong action if further felling of trees took place.
Residents had alleged the PWD was widening a 3.5-km stretch of road from Andheria Mod towards Mahipalpur by felling trees illegally. The plan is to widen the road from 17.2 metres to 75-metres.
On completion, this would be the Capital’s widest road. The stretch being widened from four lanes to eight has hundreds of flats on both sides.
“The PWD had itself numbered trees for felling. Several trees have been felled. Who did it? I would consider filing an affidavit giving more details to the tribunal,” Ghosh said.