The National Green Tribunal on Thursday said officials of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation deserve to be sent to jail for the damage they have caused to trees during the removal of concrete from around their trunks.
"We have no hesitation in concluding that the corporation has failed to discharge its statutory function and has flouted the orders of the tribunal. We find this to be a fit case for civil imprisonment," the tribunal said.
But after the corporation apologised and promised to be careful in future, the tribunal imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 to be recovered from the salaries of the officials concerned. The corporation will also plant 10 saplings for each tree that has fallen because of its carelessness.
On August 8, HT had first reported that the civic body was using JCB earth-moving machines - usually meant for heavy-duty demolition work - to remove concrete from around tree trunks. The work was meant to save trees, but the machines ended up damaging many.
The same day, taking cognisance of HT's report, the tribunal warned government agencies against doing so and ordered treatment of damaged trees. But the use of heavy machinery continued. On August 23, the green court issued contempt notices.
"It was reported widely that trees were being damaged because of irresponsible and indiscriminate use of machines by unskilled persons and trees were being felled," the tribunal said on Thursday.