Officials of Delhi’s forest and public works departments and a group of local residents will carry out an inspection and estimate the actual destruction caused to greenery in Vasant Kunj for a road-widening project. The inspection will be done on Tuesday morning.
The National Green Tribunal on Monday ordered the inspection. Based on the report to be filed by Monday, the NGT may suggest changes to the project to minimise environmental degradation through measures such as compensatory plantation.
The project, aimed at widening a 3.5-km stretch road from Andheria Mod towards Mahipalpur from the current 16 to 30 metres to 75 metres, started in the south Delhi colony on December 15 last year. However, the project got mired in controversy when some residents accused the PWD of illegally felling hundreds of trees.
The tribunal on April 9 this year ordered an interim stay. About 70% of work remains to be completed. In an earlier inspection, the PWD had said that roots of 10 trees were found damaged and four trees were found cut by people living in a nearby slum.
Reacting to the report, the tribunal on Friday came down heavily on the PWD as the forest department had already placed on record that 48 trees were felled for the project without its permission.
On Monday, the PWD again said it had only removed bushes and during removal of encroachments, some trees fell. The tribunal took exception to this and the PWD apologised but said, “We didn’t have permission from the forest department (to fell trees) and we had communicated the same to the contractor. But he committed a mistake,” said a PWD official.
The PWD, however, could not produce documents suggesting the contractor had indeed been advised against felling of trees. The tribunal ordered the contractor to be present for cross-examination on Monday, when the matter would be heard next.
The forest department had rejected the PWD’s applications for felling trees on the ground that there was no plan for compensatory afforestation. The tribunal on Friday said the PWD’s action was bound to have an adverse impact upon the environment. The PWD’s plan is to widen the stretch from four lanes to eight lanes, making it the Capital’s widest road.