May act against officials over tree felling at Delhi Ridge, says Supreme Court | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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May act against officials over tree felling at Delhi Ridge, says Supreme Court

ByAbraham Thomas
May 15, 2024 05:36 AM IST

The court was hearing two petitions, one against DDA for felling trees in Satbari to build a road, and another against CPWD for clearing trees in central ridge

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its displeasure over the cutting of trees in Delhi’s Ridge, and warned that it may start criminal contempt proceedings against the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) vice-chairman, directing the bureaucrat to provide in an affidavit details of the number of trees felled, the officials who gave permission for the same, and the time when the tree felling began.

The court has already stopped all work being undertaken at the two sites. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)
The court has already stopped all work being undertaken at the two sites. (Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

The court was hearing two contempt petitions — one filed by Bindu Kapurea against DDA VC Subhashish Panda over the felling of trees in the Satbari area in southern Ridge, and the second filed by the NGO, New Delhi Nature Society against Central Public Works Department (CPWD), director general of forests, and Delhi principal chief conservator of forests over the felling of trees at Buddha Jayanti Park in central Ridge.

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Also read: Ridge board clears four projects on forest land in Delhi

Panda, who was present in court, admitted that trees were cut in southern Ridge, indicating that over 400 trees were felled. Kapurea, represented by senior advocate Madhavi Divan, however said that nearly 1,100 trees were cut. She further stated that DDA misled the top court by filing an application in February for permission to fell 1,051 trees that stood rejected on March 4 — without the court being told that the trees had been already cut.

“If you had applied for permission and we rejected it, we may have to issue criminal contempt. This is the audacity of these people. This is serious,” the bench headed by justice AS Oka said.

Posting the matter for Thursday, the bench, also comprising justice Ujjal Bhuyan, said, “You must give an undertaking by tomorrow that you will restore the land to its original position. We will also have to go into the aspect how DDA functions and which officer took the decision.”

Taking up the matter concerning Buddha Jayanti Park, the court directed CPWD to provide details of the officers who gave verbal instructions for work in the Ridge area. Granting two weeks for the same, the bench directed the matter to be heard on July 10.

Also read: Delhi Ridge encroached or not marked: Supreme Court flags ‘shocking state of affairs’

Additional solicitor general Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for CPWD and forest DGs, said that not a single tree was felled as the work was for construction of two underground water tanks, and the CPWD horticulture department cleared only “dead vegetation and dried stems” from the project area.

Divan, for the petitioner NGO, produced satellite images dating back to October 2023 showing presence of trees. The bench said, “Trees have been uprooted. That is clear from these photographs. On basis of this image, we can go deep into the matter. Let CPWD DG respond to this.”

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