Delhi: PWD, south MCD ordered to file reports on tree deconcretisation | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Delhi: PWD, south MCD ordered to file reports on tree deconcretisation

Feb 02, 2022 12:53 AM IST

New Delhi: The forest and wildlife department has directed the Public Works Department (PWD) and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to submit action-taken reports on the number of trees that have been fully deconcretised in Vasant Vihar, along with their geo-coordinates and photographs, reminding the both agencies that they have missed the deadline of January 5, 2022 deadline for the work

New Delhi: The forest and wildlife department has directed the Public Works Department (PWD) and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to submit action-taken reports on the number of trees that have been fully deconcretised in Vasant Vihar, along with their geo-coordinates and photographs, reminding the both agencies that they have missed the deadline of January 5, 2022 deadline for the work.

New Delhi, India - Feb. 6, 2019: A view of blocked footpath at Vasant Vihar in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times) (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
New Delhi, India - Feb. 6, 2019: A view of blocked footpath at Vasant Vihar in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times) (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

The department held a hearing on January 28, following a Delhi High Court order of December 23, 2021, in which the deputy conservator of forest (west), Navneet Srivastava told the two agencies to submit compliance reports before February 4, 2022, when the matter will be heard next.

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The South corporation and PWD, in two separate hearings held on November 20 and December 8, 2021 assured the department that deconcretisation of around 5,000 trees in the area will be completed as soon as the government’s ban on construction and other activities was lifted. Deconcretisation essentially means clearing cement and concrete plaster placed around tree trunks, which blocks water from reaching its roots.

“The ban was lifted on December 20, 2021 and the 15-day period, as requested by SDMC and PWD officials, expired on January 5, 2022. However, 23 days have passed and the deconcretisation work is still not completed by both the bodies,” the order states. The two agencies were also asked to include information on each tree numbered in the area, total number of trees still concretised, GPS-tagged colour photographs of trees and action-taken in the form of notices given to individuals in the area in their respective reports.

HT reported in December 2019 that a tree census carried out by Vasant Vihar residents found that out of the total 4,993 trees in the south Delhi area, 3,859 were heavily concretised. The census showed that over 450 trees had nails, tree guards, barbed wires, etc. around their trunks; 764 trees were lopped off and at least 793 trees were infested with termites. Based on HT’s report, a group of environmental activists filed a complaint with the Delhi forest department in December 2020, and a petition was later filed in August 2021 in the Delhi high court.

In its last submission on December 9, last year, PWD said of the 1,793 trees that fall under its jurisdiction, 1,255 trees have been freed of concrete; and 538 were yet to be deconcretised. SDMC, on December 8, stated that of the 3,782 trees in its jurisdiction, 3,013 trees have been freed of concrete.

A senior forest official said findings of the compliance reports will be assessed before a decision is taken to impose penalties on the two bodies. “If a large number of trees are still concretised, then based on the reports, action may be taken. The matter will be head on February 4,” the official said.

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