The National Green Tribunal on Friday ordered various land-owning agencies and departments of the Centre and Delhi government to free all trees in the Capital of concrete by July 12 or face consequences.
Hearing a petition filed by tree enthusiast Aditya N Prasad and others, the tribunal said the deadline was the “last opportunity” for the respondents, including the three municipal corporations, Delhi Development Authority, New Delhi Municipal Council, Public Works Department, Delhi Cantonment Board, Delhi Transport Corporation and the National Highway Authority of India.
Rajiv Dutta, the petitioners’ lawyer, said, “Central rules for de-choking of trees were issued in 2000. Since then, there have been two high court orders. But concretisation continued. Now the entire de-choking exercise will cost a lot of public money.”
“The story has remained the same for so many years. To date, except for some NDMC areas, not a single tile/concrete has been removed, not even from the trees whose photographs and locations have been annexed to the petition,” Dutta said.
Co-petitioner RL Mahanta said, “Back in 2007 and 2009, these departments assured the high court they would free trees of cement but nothing much happened. This shows they don’t respect the court. Even the tribunal’s order on April 23 to remove concrete around trees has failed to shake them. I hope there’s some action now.”
The laxity could be gauged from the fact even by Friday, many departments had not even responded to the petition. “Let the replies be filed within three weeks by way of last opportunity,” the tribunal said.
“We express all hope that authorities will complete their work by the next date of hearing. In default, obviously, the consequences of the law shall follow,” it added.
AK Shukla, Delhi chief conservator of forests, said, “Tender documents for construction works continue to be prepared in the old-fashioned way. They don’t mention deconcretisation rules. We have taken it up with agencies concerned.”