25 trees on Bhairon Marg damaged during construction, says Delhi government | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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25 trees on Bhairon Marg damaged during construction, says Delhi government

By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Aug 12, 2021 01:51 AM IST

The PWD is constructing stormwater drains on both sides of the road. Due to the trenching and digging work within a one-metre radius of the tree trunks, the tree line on both sides of the road has been damaged.

A healthy mulberry tree that now stands tilted with its roots protruding out of the ground can be spotted easily while crossing Bhairon Marg, near Pragati Maidan. Another full-grown neem and a tall peepal, also on the same stretch, are almost losing balance, being partially uprooted from the ground.

Trees uprooted during a construction work at Bhairav Marg in New Delhi. (Sanchit Khana/HT Photo)
Trees uprooted during a construction work at Bhairav Marg in New Delhi. (Sanchit Khana/HT Photo)

These are among at least 25 trees whose bases were damaged during construction work by the public works department (PWD), according to an inspection report of the site prepared by the Delhi forest department.

The PWD is constructing stormwater drains on both sides of the road. Due to the trenching and digging work within a one-metre radius of the tree trunks, the tree line on both sides of the road has been damaged.

Some of the trees can already be seen leaning over the road as their roots have been tampered with. And heavy rain or a storm could knock them down.

Forest officials said they had on Friday issued a restraining order to the road-owning agency, asking them to stop work on the stretch immediately.

“A restraining order has been issued to the agency. Also, we have registered a case against the PWD under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act (DPTA), 1994, for damaging roots of at least 25 trees because of which some have even tilted. Most of the trees are native varieties and range from 15 to 25 feet in height,” said Navneet Srivastava, deputy conservator of forest (DCF), west division, adding that PWD’s version will be heard too after which they will be asked to take remedial measures.

“We will be constantly monitoring the status of the trees,” Srivastava said.

A senior PWD official said work on the stretch has been stopped. “The contractors taking up the work are aware that trees on the way need to be protected during construction work. We will take up restorative measures if the trees have been damaged,” said the official, who did not wish to be named.

The matter came to light when environmental activist Verhaen Khanna filed a complaint with the forest department and the PWD, seeking a restraining order on the PWD and corrective measures to save the trees.

“The tree roots were cut during trenching work, which is being done by the PWD workers on both sides of the road. The construction is being done within a one-metre radius of the tree bases. Many trees could be spotted tilting and losing their balance because of their roots being uprooted from one end. This can eventually result in the tree falling or dying, in particular during the monsoon,” said Khanna.

He added that fresh soil must be laid over the exposed roots and the cement that has been put too close to the tree base must be removed. “If restored now, the trees can be saved,” he said.

Most of the trees on the stretch are native species like semal, ashok, neem, mulberry (shehtoot) and peepal, among others.

Any kind of construction activity including, digging, trenching or filling concrete within a one-metre radius of a tree base is prohibited as per the 2013 order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) as well as under the DPTA. The offenders are liable to pay compensation depending on the extent of the damage caused to trees.

A 2014 NGT order had also stated that agencies must ensure root protection while constructing stormwater drains and cover exposed portions with soil immediately.

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