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NGT Raps Delhi's Civic Authorities for 'Haphazard' Work (Dec.)

 

The Times of India, New Delhi, Friday 6th December 2013

Delhi's civic authorities were today pulled up by the National Green Tribunal for wasting public money by not working in tandem with each other while removing concrete covering tree roots.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar observed that the deconcretisation work as well as other projects dealing with protection of trees, like putting up brick walls or iron grills around them, were being done in a "haphazardly manner".   

It noted that the concrete removed from the tree roots was being left around at the site, sometimes on the footpath or around the tree, and directed the Vice Chairman of DDA to "exercise better supervision" to ensure the concrete removal work was done properly and public money was not wasted.         

"The pictures annexed with affidavit (of the authorities) provide an overall view relating to the apathy of coordination between the public authorities of NCT Delhi and statutory bodies... The authorities are expected to work in tandem to ensure that deconcretisation is done properly.You can't be wasting public money in this fashion.      

"The concrete removed should be taken away and stored at a proper site. In the circumstances, we direct Vice Chairman, DDA to exercise better supervision and to ensure that proper deconcretisation of trees takes place and public money is not wasted," the bench said.         

Meanwhile, the authorities informed the tribunal that deconcretisation work had been completed in 18 colonies in Delhi.   

The bench, thereafter, directed the authorities to take up the East Revenue District as first priority to complete the deconcretisation work there and appointed local commissioners to inspect three south Delhi colonies where the civic agencies claimed to have finished the work of removing concrete from tree roots.

NGT issued notice to the Public Works Department (PWD) and forest department of Delhi government and sought their response on two fresh applications seeking contempt of court action against them for allegedly violating its orders to not harm trees during deconcretisation or any other developmental work.           

The contempt applications were filed by Aditya Prasad on whose main petition the tribunal had in April 2013 directed civic agencies to ensure deconcretisation of trees as well as removal of electric wires, advertisements and DTC bus stand signs from trees.

In his contempt pleas, Prasad has alleged that the civic agencies, particularly PWD, have not fully complied with the tribunal's directions to remove concrete from trees and to ensure that trees were not harmed.       

He has alleged that a tree in Lodhi Road here split into two after PWD poured concrete into its hollow portion.         

He has also cited instances where instead of completely removing the concrete, the authority has spread soil over it or where the concrete has been replaced with granite slabs.     Prasad has also alleged that while digging for setting up sewers, the authorities dig very close to the roots of the trees causing them to be damaged and uprooted.