A letter written by public works department (PWD) secretary Arun Baroka to the Delhi government in February this year nails its lies to the National Green Tribunal that it did not illegally cut trees for a road-widening project in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj. .
The tribunal had stayed the project in April. All this while, the PWD has been claiming that it did not cut any tree.
The letter accessed by HT reads: "The (PWD) contractor was clearly given instructions not to cut the trees without permission. But in spite of that he has done so. The department has already issued a show-cause notice to him. I have also instructed (the department) to issue show-cause notices to executive engineer, assistant engineer and junior engineer of the area."
Baroka had in his letter -- sent to the chief secretary, PWD minister and personal secretary to the chief minister -- said, "I have instructed the engineer-in-chief and engineers concerned to ensure that they obtain necessary permission in this regard before undertaking any work."
In an affidavit to the tribunal, the contractor, however, said the PWD cited pressures from "higher authorities" and kept threatening him to go ahead with the project immediately or face legal action.
The contractor wrote at least 15 letters to the PWD since October 2012, mostly on the trees that needed to be cleared in the area. The PWD said there was no hindrance and asked the contactor to go ahead with the project. Tt acknowledged the presence of trees in the project alignment only in January 2013, .
The PWD admitted that it did not have tree-cutting permission from the forest department but told the tribunal it only got bushes removed and three-four trees may have been uprooted in a storm.
The agency is widening the 16-30m road into a 75m one and the project is expected to cost Rs 58 crore.