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Green panel stays felling of trees in Delhi till July 19

At least 14,000 trees were proposed to be cut for redeveloping residential facilities for central government employees in south Delhi.

delhi Updated: Jul 03, 2018 00:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
delhi trees,tree felling in Delhi,NGT
People protest against the cutting of trees at Sarojini Nagar in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday stopped the felling of at least 14,000 trees for the redevelopment of seven south Delhi neighbourhoods till July 19, the next date of hearing.

A bench headed by acting NGT chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim ordered status quo on tree felling in south Delhi till further orders and issued notices to various agencies, including the Central Public Works Department, NBCC (India) Limited and the Union urban and housing affairs ministry, to file their responses by July 19. The Delhi high court, which had earlier stopped the felling of trees till July 4, is likely to hear the matter on Wednesday.

NBCC planned to cut the trees to build commercial space and flats for central government employees in south Delhi. The issue triggered a wave of protests and separate petitions were filed in the NGT and Delhi high court to stop the tree cutting. The court, on June 25, stopped the felling of trees for the project till July 4.

The NGT bench also directed NBCC and the central government to inform the tribunal on the exact number of trees that are proposed to be cut. The green court also put a stay on removal of debris from the project site till further orders.

Hindustan Times was the first to report on June 17 that at least 16,500 trees were proposed to be cut as per the Environment Impact Clearance for the redevelopment issued by the union government. The ministry of housing affairs later clarified that around 14,000 trees would be cut in Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Muhammadpur, Kasturba Nagar, Sriniwaspuri and Thyagraj Nagar. The petition filed in the NGT also quoted the Hindustan Times report.

Following protests by citizen groups, on June 28, union housing affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri directed NBCC and CPWD to rework and redesign the construction plans in these neighbourhoods. “As stated earlier, no trees will henceforth be cut in the process of redevelopment of Delhi colonies,” Puri said in a tweet.

The green tribunal was hearing at least three separate petition filed by activists and NGOs seeking stay on felling of trees and the scrapping of environmental clearance.

One of the petitioners, Anil Sood said that the centre had given clearance to the projects without considering several factors such as existing population density and the impact of cutting trees on the ambient air quality in the area.

“We have got a breather till 19 July that at least not a single tree would be felled at the project sites,” he said.

Meanwhile, protests continued at Sarojini Nagar and other parts of the city against axing of trees. Activists said that protests would continue till a court issues an order that no trees would be cut for the redevelopment project.

First Published: Jul 02, 2018 15:12 IST