Criticizing the replacement of two-storey buildings with high rises, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a detailed response from the NBCC and DDA and explain the meaning of redevelopment and banned the axing of 16,500 trees for a residential project till further orders.
“Redevelopment is not done on the basis of constructing building. You cannot replace two-storey buildings with eight-storey buildings,” the court said.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar said the court would not allow Delhi to die at the cost of the redevelopment project and warned of doing away with it if required.
The court also asked the National Buildings Construction Corp (NBCC) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to file a detailed reply and explain why it was necessary to cut trees and how did they change the Master plan on the matter retrospectively.
Observing that the residential project spanning six south Delhi colonies would create traffic chaos near the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Safdarjung Hospital, the court warned of giving orders regarding demolition of East Kidwai Nagar, if required, as it seems to be haphazard and has an impact on neighbouring hospitals.
The court asked authorities to have a re-look at the project and also to explain how they planned to tackle waste management, vehicle parking and other aspects while undertaking the project.
Contending that Delhi houses a large population of avian fauna and trees species, the bench also sought to know whether the project will impact the environment.
Pointing out that since 1987, all courts have been insisting on de-congesting Delhi, the court asked why such projects cannot be shifted to outer Delhi.
The court listed the matter for July 26 and asked the Centre and the Delhi Government to file their responses on a plea filed by orthopaedic surgeon Kaushal Kant Mishra, who challenged permission to cut trees for the residential project.
The petitioner sought the setting aside of terms of reference and environmental clearances granted to the project by the Environment Ministry, saying that it would lead to felling of over 16,500 trees.
The six south Delhi colonies where the trees would be felled are Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Mohammadpur and Kasturba Nagar.
All these areas are home to government employees where the Central government is pulling down houses built in the 1950s and replacing them with high-rise buildings.
The court was also hearing a contempt plea filed by environmentalist Vimlendu Jha, who alleged that there was “deliberate and willful default” of the June 25 undertaking given to the court by the NBCC.
He said that the alleged contemnor (NBCC CMD) had undertaken not to cut trees in areas concerned till July 4 but on Tuesday he noticed that officials and workers of NBCC were axing trees in Netaji Nagar in south Delhi.
Besides the NBCC, the Central Public Works Department is executing the project.