An over 30-feet tall mature, ready-to-bloom semal tree has been ‘illegally’ cut to its trunk level in Sector A of green Vasant Kunj in south Delhi.
The green canopy, home to hundreds of birds and insects, was cut down to a little over half its length on February 14 leaving an exposed trunk, almost three-feet wide.
When Rashmi Singh, a resident of block A who stays in a DDA flat right next to the tree, objected to the cutting, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) officials said they had permission. She even called the police when the tree was cut down to the trunk. “They took away a truckload of logs and branches,” Singh said.
Forest officials said the permission had been granted for just ‘head back’, which is basic pruning. “We had given the permission six months back. It had expired.
This is a clear case of the violation of Tree Act,” said DM Shukla, chief conservator of forests in Delhi.
Once permission is given, the tree should be felled within the specified time frame, otherwise it can attract a fine of R30,000 per tree cut, he said.
The MCD is unrelenting. It maintains the tree was cut at the behest of the RWA and that permission was sought from the forest department for ‘heavy pruning’ of 42 trees and ‘head-backing’ of three semal trees.
“The RWA claimed the Semal trees posed problems for asthmatic patients,” said YS Mann, MCD’s director (press and information), adding, “There was a procedural delay. (But) we had the necessary permission.”