Rampant tree felling for Vasant Kunj road widening, court told
The residents had contended before the Appellate Authority that according to UTTIPEC’s (Unified Traffic And Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre) approved plan maps, only 226 trees needed to be cut instead of 810.Updated: Sep 19, 2019 17:31 IST
Residents of south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that the public works department (PWD) was illegally cutting hundreds of trees to widen the Mehrauli-Mahipalpur Road.
The petition, filed last Friday by two residents, said the locals had in December 2014 moved the Appellate Authority, challenging the September 15, 2014, decision of the deputy conservator of forests (west) to allow PWD to cut 810 trees.
Five residents, part of an eco-collective of citizens of Vasant Kunj, had filed the appeal.
The residents had contended before the Appellate Authority that according to UTTIPEC’s (Unified Traffic And Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre) approved plan maps, only 226 trees needed to be cut instead of 810. But as on date, the number trees that had been cut have not been properly accounted for.
The petition, filed before the high court through advocate Manoj George, said that following an unsatisfactory order from the Appellate Authority, the residents moved the Delhi High Court in 2015.
“Thereafter, the petitioners (residents) filed a plea where the court passed a final order dated May 25, 2015, wherein it was expressly mentioned taking in view the detailed report of the amicus curiae that 298 trees out of 810 trees will be saved and only 302 trees will be cut,” the plea read.
When the court order was not complied with, a contempt petition was filed in 2016, alleging 1,615 trees had been missing on the stretch. The contempt plea is pending adjudication and the matter is listed for Jan 13, 2020.
According to the plea, the residents recently got to know that PWD in April this year sought permission from the forest departmentto cut another 198 trees, a clear violation of the court’s earlier orders.
It said bricks, stones, mud and debris are lying around, which is dangerous for pedestrians .
The petition said residents of Vasant Kunj living on the stretch between Andheria More and Fortis Hospital (where the trees are being cut) are in a state of panic and anxiety for the last six years due to the illegal acts.
The matter came up for hearing before Justice Navin Chawla on Wednesday but the judge recused himself following which the matter would be now listed on Tuesday before another bench.
Appearing for PWD on Wednesday, advocate Sanjoy Ghose, additional standing counsel of the Delhi government, told the court that the trees were being cut after taking proper permission, according to the Delhi High Court’s 2015 order. He said the 198 trees, for which permission was being sought, was part of the 302 trees as pointed by the amicus curiae and the court.
First Published: Sep 19, 2019 05:10 IST