NBCC blamed for ‘serious irregularities’ in tree plantation at 3 Delhi colonies

A nine-member panel of Delhi assembly’s Public Accounts Committee found that NBCC had majorly defaulted in compensatory plantation at the sites.

delhi Updated: Jun 30, 2018 11:10 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
NBCC,tree felling in Delhi,Delhi Assembly
Dry ornamental plants seen at the Kidwai Nagar’s redevelopment site in New Delhi.(Vipin Kumar/HT PHOTO)

A preliminary report prepared by the Delhi assembly’s Public Accounts Committee has blamed the state-owned NBCC (India) Limited for committing “serious irregularities” in tree plantation at three south Delhi colonies — Netaji Nagar, East Kidwai Nagar and Nauroji Nagar — where redevelopment project was to take place.

A nine-member committee, which inspected the three government colony redevelopment sites, found that the NBCC had majorly defaulted in compensatory plantation at the sites. It also claimed that the agency displayed a “casual attitude” towards the health of Delhi residents.

At East Kidwai Nagar, where construction began in December, 2014 and work is nearing completion, it found that only 3% of the total saplings planted were native, while 97% were of ornamental or decorative species.

“Around 1,600 trees have been felled by NBCC, which was obligated to plant 8,165 trees at the project site itself. The committee found there were just 3,195 plants. As per NBCC’s classification of these compensatory plants, only 95 were native tree plants, while the rest 3,100 were ornamental and decorative plants like palm trees and champa,” the preliminary report accessed by HT stated.

On June 27, Hindustan Times, had reported how the under-construction fountains, sculptures and art work at the 86-acre project site at East Kidwai Nagar make way for ornamental plants which are neither native to Delhi nor help in improving the city’s polluted air, according to experts. The saplings planted include cycus and date palm, three types of fycus, lucky bean, washingtonia and bismarkia.

The Assembly committee is chaired by Aam Admi Party MLA from Burari, Sanjeev Jha, and has other AAP legislators such as Saruabh Bhardwaj, Girish Soni and Alka Lamba in it. Friday’s inspection, which started early in the morning, also had officers of Delhi forest department, NBCC and the ministry of housing and urban affairs participating in it.

At Narouji Nagar, records showed that 1,302 trees were cut by NBCC. But, no compensatory plantation of 14,650 saplings, that is required, was done till Friday. “The transplanted trees at the project site appeared to have been planted just a night before the committee inspection. There were fresh boulders and rubble at the site to indicate that place for replantation was recently created to mislead the committee,” the report read.

The committee observed that the NBCC was obligated to provide land for compensatory plantation. However, the 14.65 hectares of land in Garhi Mandu and another 21.45 hectares at the same location meant for compensatory plantation for these projects are yet to be handed by the DDA to the Delhi forest department.

“It was the duty of NBCC to ensure that the land was handed over to the Delhi forest department and the compensatory plantation was completed before felling of even a single tree as per the orders of the National Green Tribunal,” said the report.

While the committee is yet to come up with a final report, it also state that at Netaji Nagar, 224 trees have been cut so far. “The NBCC was obligated to plant 24,900 trees before cutting a single tree, but that clearly did not happen at Netaji Nagar,” said a member of the committee.

First Published: Jun 30, 2018 11:09 IST