The Delhi government on Tuesday recommended that lieutenant-governor Anil Baijal revoke the approval his office had given to cut trees for redeveloping government colonies at Netaji Nagar, Nauroji Nagar and East Kidwai Nagar.
In a letter to the L-G, state environment minister Imran Hussain gave a detailed status of trees at the sites where high-rise buildings meant for Central government employees are to be built. The minister said that if the L-G agrees to revoke the clearances, it could save 2,276 trees that are yet to be chopped.
The government’s decision comes a day after the National Green Tribunal had already stopped the agency engaged in redevelopment work — NBCC (India) Limited — from cutting any trees till July 19. The Delhi high court will be hearing a separate petition on the issue on Wednesday.
In his letter, Hussain said NBCC had “failed” to carry out compensatory tree plantation both on and off site. “It is strongly recommended that tree cutting permission to the user agency may be revoked in all these General Pool Residential Accommodation (GPRA) colonies and penal action applicable as per law may be initiated,” the letter stated.
The minister said that tree cutting permissions have “become redundant” after Union minister of housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri recently announced that NBCC and the ministry are redesigning the entire project to ensure no trees are cut.
A report prepared by the state forest department that was attached to the letter stated that the Delhi government had until now given permission to cute 5,600 trees for the redevelopment project. Out of these, NBCC has cut 3,324 trees so far, the report said.
Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said the report prepared by the government is going to be put before the high court on Wednesday. “We hope that seeing the irregularities committed by NBCC, the HC will prohibit cutting of trees any further at these sites,” he said.
For the East Kidwai Nagar project, which is nearing completion, the report stated that NBCC sought tree felling permission in two phases. “Out of 1,852 trees, 1,796 have already been felled. Land for compensatory plantation has not been handed over to the forest department by user agency,” it said.
At Netaji Nagar and Nauroji Nagar sites also the NBCC is yet to provide the land to the department for plantation, the letter read. For the Mohammadpur project, the government said it has already sent back the file asking NBCC to reduce the number of trees to be cut and also come up with a plan to “trans-locate” some other trees.
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