Electronics India gets notice for ‘damaging’ trees on Sardar Patel MargUpdated: Jul 02, 2020 23:48 IST
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has issued a show-cause notice to the Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL) to “explain” any potential damage caused to trees on Sardar Patel Marg in Chanakyapuri during the road cutting work undertaken by the agency.
According to NDMC officials, the ECIL was given permission for road cutting work on June 26 to lay underground cables for installing CCTV cameras along the route. However, after the work begun, it was brought to the notice of the municipal agency that the trenching (horizontal drilling) work to dig pits was being carried out near the tree line, with the result that it could have damaged or weakened the roots of full-grown trees. The municipal agency then issued a show-cause notice to ECIL on July 1.
Following the notice, the ECIL Thursday stopped the digging work but its officials refused to comment on the matter.
The matter was brought to the attention of the NDMC by a Delhi-based lawyer, who complained that the digging work was being carried out in violation of National Green Tribunal orders and sent a ‘cease and desist’ notice to both the NDMC and the ECIL. The complaint was also sent to the Delhi forest department.
“We have written to the ECIL seeking an explanation on violating the conditions of the road-cutting permission as well as previous NGT orders. ECIL officials have intimated us that the work has been stopped for now. They will have to get the permission revalidated,” a senior NDMC official said, on the condition of anonymity.
He added that the horticulture department has also been asked to assess the extent of damage, if any, caused to the trees. The stretch has a number of old and deep-rooted trees such as arjuna, jamun, ashoka and amaltas. There are also a few ficus, peepal, semal and exotic trees as well.
As per the laid out conditions for road-cutting, trenchless/cutting/digging has to be carried out away from the trees to avoid any damage to the roots...full care shall be taken and if any damage is caused to any tree, the agency carrying out the work will be liable to pay compensation, the notice read.
The NGT, in 2013, had asked all public authorities to de-concrete areas around trees and further directed that no kind of construction activity be allowed within a one-metre radius of the tree trunk.
Also, trenching within a one-metre radius of the tree trunk, that may damage trees, is a violation of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994.
A senior forest official, who did not wish to be named, said, “A field verification of the site will be taken up. If any damage is found to the trees, a notice shall be sent to the agency and necessary action will be taken.”
CR Babu, professor emeritus at the Centre for Environment Management of Degraded Ecosystems at Delhi University, said, “Trenching within the one-metre radius of the tree trunk can have an impact on the roots. The extent of damage depends on the width and depth of the trench and the kind of root the trees have. Since most trees on this stretch are deep-rooted, if the trench cuts into the roots, it can harm the supply of nutrients to the tree. These activities must be monitored well in order to save old and full-grown trees from potential damage.”