The National Green Tribunal on Friday tore into Delhi’s public works department for presenting wrong facts regarding the road-widening project in Vasant Kunj.
When a PWD executive engineer said no trees had been felled for the project, the tribunal said, “The forest department says 48 trees were cut (without its permission). How dare you lie before us?”
When the engineer could not produce any document to substantiate his claim, the tribunal asked the PWD lawyer, “Has he come here for a picnic?”
The NGT expressed anguish at the behaviour of the official and for trying to mislead the tribunal. “His statement in any case is rebutted by the stand taken by the forest department and photographs placed on record by the petitioner,” the NGT said.
The tribunal ordered the official to produce all records, including the layout plan and tender documents, related to the project by May 20, the next date of hearing. Till then, an interim stay on the project, ordered earlier by the tribunal, will remain in force.
The tribunal was hearing a petition filed by Sonya Ghosh, a resident of the south Delhi colony. She said, “We moved the tribunal when a large number of trees were felled without permission from the forest department.”
Her lawyer Parul Gupta said, “We have submitted satellite images of two periods — November 2012 and February 2013 -- to show that trees had indeed been felled.”
The tribunal said the grievance of the petitioner stands substantiated. “The project was in progress without the forest department’s permission,” it said.
The PWD’s plan is to widen the road from 16 to 30 metres to 75 metres. On completion, this will be the Capital’s widest road.
The tribunal on Friday said the PWD’s action was bound to have adverse impact on the environment. “Felling of trees in this manner violates the provisions of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 and Indian Forest Act, 1927,” it said.