The Delhi high court on Friday declined to put on hold the felling of trees sanctioned by the Centre in connection with the redevelopment of six south Delhi colonies by the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
While refusing to pass any interim order, a vacation bench of Justices A K Chawla and Navin Chawla issued notice to the ministries of Housing and Environment as well as the NBCC, CPWD and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and sought their stand on a plea challenging the environment clearance given to the housing projects.
The bench said it was not inclined to grant an ex-parte order at the moment and wanted to hear the NBCC before issuing any direction. It also told the petitioner, an orthopaedic surgeon, that the project was going on for several months while the environment clearances were given in 2017-18.
The PIL has sought setting aside of the terms of reference (ToR) and the environment clearances (EC) granted to the project by the Environment Ministry, saying it would lead to felling of over 16,500 trees.
The six south Delhi colonies where the trees would be felled are Sarojini Nagar, Naoroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Mohammadpur and Kasturba Nagar, the petition by Dr Kaushal Kant Mishra said.
Delhi’s ruling AAP on Friday slammed the Central government for its decision of chopping down close to 17,000 full grown trees for its redevelopment plan.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj told the media here that the party will do everything within its power to stop the Central government from cutting trees to make “luxury buildings for people and ministers in the Central government”.
“Some reports have suggested that close to 17,000 trees will be chopped off to accommodate the redevelopment of Central government housing in the South Delhi area.
“This will affect green cover across areas such as Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar and Safdarjung,” he said.
Bhardwaj also said that the Sarojini Nagar area will be worst affected with 11,000 trees being chopped down. “In Kidwai Nagar, 1,123 trees will be chopped down, in Netaji Nagar, 2,294 and 1454 trees to be felled in Nauroji Nagar,” he said.
Targeting Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri for allegedly supporting the redevelopment plan, Bhardwaj said: “He is the same man who supported fee hike in the Delhi Metro. You can see how that decision went; 5 lakh people have stopped taking the metro.”
He also accused the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) of “back-stabbing the already pollution sick people of Delhi by chopping down the trees in the cover of night”.
“We are not against development. The Central government can arrange for their ministers to stay in other areas of Delhi like Dwarka and Rohini, but chopping off trees is wrong,” Bhardwaj said.
Warning the Central government, Bhardwaj said AAP will start a movement with the people of Delhi and “will not let this redevelopment plan to work at any cost”.
(With inputs from agencies)