PWD flouts order, hurts trees

The public works department of the Delhi government is allegedly violating a National Green Tribunal order prohibiting concretisation of trees.

Already, the PWD has to remove concrete, nails and hoardings from 38,560 trees on 500-odd road stretches in its jurisdiction in Delhi. The agency has to finish the task and submit a report of compliance to the tribunal by July 12.

Aditya N Prasad, one of three tree enthusiasts on whose petition the tribunal is hearing the matter, said, "On May 25, large-scale damage to trees was discovered. The PWD was found concretising areas through tiling in and around RPS Flats, Sheik Sarai Phase-I, where 4-inch-thick concrete has been placed on the green area and around trees."

"This is in direct contravention of the NGT order. We will file a petition on Monday seeking from the tribunal contempt proceedings against the PWD," he said.

The tiling was stopped only after Prasad confronted the PWD officials and its contractors, and the forest department and Delhi Police intervened on Saturday. "Already 30-40 trees have been damaged," Prasad said.

The tribunal on April 23 ordered the PWD and many other land-owning agencies in Delhi such as the three municipal corporations and the Delhi Development Authority to remove concrete from trees in their jurisdiction.

In an affidavit filed to the tribunal, engineer-in-chief and PWD chairman Dinesh Kumar admitted about at about 500 road stretches, 38,560 trees were choked with concrete. This has been done in clear violation of government guidelines and high court orders issued over the years.

The PWD affidavit proposed to the tribunal that de-choking would be completed in two months. The tribunal has, however, set July 12 as the deadline for all land-owning agencies, including the PWD for completion of the work or else they will all face action.

"It's a waste of public money. These trees shouldn't have been choked or allowed to be damaged in the first place," said Rajiv Dutta, senior advocate, appearing for the petitioners.

Giving some examples, the affidavit says from IIT gate to NH-8 there are 1,396 choked trees, while the number on Uttamnagar-Sagarpur stretch is 270.


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