Planning institute in Delhi in the dock for cutting 11 trees
The National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) — a central government research organisation — has come under the scanner of the state forest department following allegations that it has cut down at least 11 trees inside its premises without permission.
A passerby spotted some trees being felled inside the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) campus on Aurobindo Marg in south Delhi and informed a tree activist about it.
The NIEPA office is located inside the NCERT campus. The activist, in turn, alerted forest officials and the police.
“A passerby spotted some trees being cut and logs being loaded on trucks. When he asked whether it was being done with permission from the forest department, the authorities could show no permission proof. He informed me, and I, later, informed the forest department and police. The forest department was prompt to take action,” said Verhaen Khanna, the tree activist.
After rushing to the spot, forest department officials rushed to the spot to find at least 11 eucalyptus trees were cut and 27 trees were pruned. They found out that the organisation had not applied for permission to cut trees from the forest department and other authorities concerned.
While five trees were cut from the trunk, six trees were cut at a height of 20 feet from the ground.
A senior forest department official, who did not wish to be named, said, “We have already filed a case and will soon send a notice to the registrar of the organisation. Leave aside cutting trees, in Delhi, you need permission to even prune trees. The organisation had no such permission.”
NV Varghese, vice chancellor of NIEPA, said, “Some trees were cut and a few others had to be pruned as they were found to be vulnerable. These trees could have fallen on the building. We are in touch with the forest department.”
This comes less than two months after a project of the union housing and urban affairs to redevelop central government colonies in south Delhi ran into controversy after getting permission to cut down at least 5,600 trees.
While 3,324 trees had already been cut, the state government later revoked the permission to cut trees and 2,276 trees could be saved.