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PWD removes tin plates, but leaves nails in trees

                                                                                       Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 29th April, 2013

Tree protection laws exist in government statutes but they perhaps do not apply to some of its departments.

The Public Works Department (PWD) first nailed 1,000 tin number sheets to as many trees on Outer Ring Road in West Delhi. The agency hammered 4,000 nails just to count trees before they could be felled to build an elevated road between Vikas Puri and Meera Bagh.

When Hindustan Times on April 13 highlighted the issue, the PWD began fresh counting using paint, promising removal of nails and tin sheets. When HT visited the spot on Saturday, it found the tin sheets had been pulled out while leaving all the nails inside.

The callous approach comes after the National Green Tribunal on Tuesday ordered removal of nails, hooks, rods, boards and advertisements from tress.
The Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, says nailing a tree would attract a jail term of up to one year or a fine of up to Rs. 1,000 or both.

The brutality does not end there. While the forest department has not given tree-cutting permission for the project, the PWD has started expanding the road by demolishing and digging the footpath, which is 10 feet in width. JCB machines have cut lateral roots of trees.

They have also torn away branches falling onto the footpath. At one place a whole tree has been torn from the stem. These trees, including Neem and Arjuna, are located on the pavements and service roads on both sides of the main Outer Ring Road carriageway.

When the matter was first reported, Delhi PWD minister Raj Kumar Chauhan had told HT, “Nails are not meant to be hammered into trees. Action will be taken in the matter. These trees would not be felled till we have permission from the forest department.”

GN Sinha, head, Delhi forest department, had also promised that nails would be removed.

But the forest department perhaps doesn’t have the teeth to take on the mighty PWD officials.

“It’s a mistake. But we cannot get personal. The elevated road project  for which these trees are eventually likely to be cut will be for the benefit for people in west Delhi,” said a forest department official.