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At least 150 oldest trees of Delhi to be chopped for 3 government projects

A copy of the environment clearance for the project shows that permissions for the felling of the 25 trees were granted by the Delhi government’s forest department in August last year.

delhi Updated: Jul 03, 2018 23:43 IST
Soumya Pillai
Soumya Pillai
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi trees,Delhi deforestation,Lutyen's Delhi
The Delhi high court stayed till July 4 the felling of more than 16,000 trees for redevelopment projects in Delhi. (Raj K Raj/HT File Photo)

At least 150 of the city’s oldest trees have been or are being chopped in the heart of the national capital to make way for three government projects: the construction of Gujarat Sadan, Vanijya Bhawan ( the commerce ministry’s new headquarters), and flats for senior central government employees.

At Akbar Road, address to ministers and senior government officials, at least 25 trees have been cut in the last few months for the construction of the new Gujarat Sadan. A copy of the environment clearance for the project shows that permissions for the felling of the 25 trees were granted by the Delhi government’s forest department in August last year. Though the species of the trees that have been chopped for the project is unclear, Akbar Road largely has large Imli and Amaltas and some trees are as old as 80 years.

Spread across 7,066 sq mt, the construction of this state guest house started in September last year. The guest house will have 69 rooms, including a meeting space and a lounge, and will have tall bottle palm trees (a non-resident decorative species) planted around it, the project report for the development says.

Barely a few metres away, the construction of Vanijya Bhawan is going on; on the lot ,logs of 32 chopped trees are stacked together. The permissions for this were granted by the forest department earlier this year.

“Environment has been the focus for all our projects and we have followed the required procedures and have obtained permissions to start our projects,” said AK Mittal, chairperson of the state-owned NBCC (India) Ltd, which is in charge of the two projects.

On Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg, near the Income Tax Office, the construction of 120 apartments for senior central government employees will result in the felling of 96 trees. The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) , the agency undertaking the project, has already started cutting the trees.

“The project has proposed to increase the green cover of the complex several times over the existing spread. We should at least wait until the project is completed before mindlessly criticising it,” said a senior official of the union ministry of housing and urban affairs, who asked not to be identified.

Experts said that the problem is not that these projects are flouting any norms. The problem is that government agencies are not serious about the quantum of loss that the city is likely to experience with the loss of such old avenue trees.

“The first line of Imli plantation was done by the British, so they (the trees) are a part of the city’s history, apart from just serving the ecological purpose of a tree,” said author and ecological gardener Pradip Krishen.

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 21:59 IST