Different notes on different strokes. That’s how Delhi’s forest department and public works department are presenting facts about a road-widening project in Vasant Kunj, which remains halted and mired in controversy because of illegal felling of trees.
In an affidavit submitted to the National Green Tribunal on April 6, the PWD — which had undertaken the road-widening project — said there has been no felling of trees in the project area.
Deputy conservator of forests (west) Rajgopal Prashant in his affidavit submitted to the tribunal on April 22, said 29 trees were felled while 10 others were pruned. He later told the tribunal that actually 48 trees were cut without his permission. Residents of Vasant Kunj who moved the tribunal, resulting in an interim stay on the project, say hundreds of trees were felled without permission by the PWD.
But the report of a joint inspection by the forest department, the PWD and the contractor of the project has said: “Roots of 10 trees were found damaged. Four trees were found cut. They were cut at night by people living in a nearby slum. No machine was found to be operating near the trees cut.”
That’s not all. In its reply, dated April 4, to a right to information application filed by HT, the forest department said the PWD had sought felling of 73 and 94 trees in two applications. Both applications were rejected, the RTI reply said. But the PWD has informed the tribunal that it sought felling of 94 and 109 trees in two applications, which was not granted.
The forest department puts the project length at 3.5 km, while the PWD has told the tribunal: “Work was started on December 15, 2012 on a 2.10-km stretch. The entire project area to be completed in two phases runs into 3.2 km.”
The tribunal on Friday tore into the PWD for presenting wrong facts and ordered it to produce all records, including the layout plan and tender documents, pertaining to the project by May 20, when the matter would be heard next. Till then the interim stay will remain in force.
The PWD’s plan is to widen the road from 16 to 30 metres to 75 metres.