Seeks exact number of trees proposed to be cut for redevelopment project.
New Delhi: Not a single tree would be cut in seven South Delhi colonies taken up for redevelopment by the authorities, till further orders, the National Green Tribunal said on Monday.
Asking the ministry of housing and urban affairs, NBCC, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Central Public Works Department, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and others to maintain status quo on tree felling, the tribunal ordered the authorities to file their responses before July 19, the next date of hearing.
The green panel directed the project proponents to make a categorical statement and inform it about the exact number of trees proposed to be cut for the redevelopment project for about half a dozen colonies.
The tribunal was hearing a plea by NGO — Society for Protection of Culture, Heritage, Environment, Traditions & Promotion of National Awareness (SPCHETNA), Green Circle and city resident Utkarsh Bansal seeking a stay on the proposed felling of more than 16,000 trees for re-development of the colonies.
The petitioner claimed that environmental clearance has been granted for seven general pool residential colonies without taking into account the possible adverse effect on the ecology.
The ministry said that number of trees mentioned by the applicants was an exaggeration.
It also contended that since the matter was pending with the Delhi High Court, the tribunal should restrain itself for passing any interim order.
A bench headed by acting NGT chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim said that although the case commenced before the high court, but keeping in mind the likely imminent danger to the ecology and the proposal of the project proponent to fell around 16,000 trees, was likely to seriously impact the environment unless a proper impact assessment is done.
It also impleaded the ministry of environment and forests as a party in the case and sought its reply in the matter before next date of hearing.
“Hence applying the precautionary principle, we direct the Respondent No 1 and 2 to maintain status-quo, particularly in the matter relating felling of the trees and direct that there shall be no felling/cutting/destruction of the trees till further order by this tribunal,” the green panel added.
The plea claimed that planting of saplings at another location as compensatory afforestation would not reduce the burden put on the environment due to the large-scale felling of trees.
Anil Sood, president of the NGO, said the Centre had given clearance to the projects without considering several factors, such as existing population density and the impact of cutting 16,500 trees on the ambient air quality in the area.
The plea said an environment impact assessment report for the project around south Delhi showed that 11,000 trees will be cut in Sarojini Nagar, 1,465 will be cut in Nauroji Nagar, 3,033 will be chopped off from Netaji Nagar and another 520 will be cut in Kasturba Nagar, out of a total of 19,976 trees in these areas.