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File affidavits before felling trees, says NGT

 The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has asked the Forest Department and the Public Works Department (PWD) to file affidavits seeking permission to cut 206 trees to construct a ramp as part of the PWD’s Elevated Corridor project between Vikaspuri and Mukarba Chowk. The tribunal while hearing the matter on Monday asked the respondents — PWD and the Forest Department — why they had not yet responded to the tribunal’s contempt notice on June for violating its order of May 29 that no trees may be cut till the next date of hearing.

 

After the tribunal’s order of May 29, the applicants in the case had cited evidence of a tree being cut by the authorities. The logs were found in a trench in Meera Bagh. A total of 1,476 trees are to be cut as per the PWD’s Elevated Corridor project between Vikaspuri and Mukarba Chowk. Last June, due to violation of norms, the NGT had put a stay on felling any trees for the project. Then it gave directions allowing felling of some trees along the stretch. After the Forest Department of the Delhi Government was found violating the tribunal’s order in April by allowing all trees on the stretch to be felled, the tribunal put a stay a second time.

 

Despite this stay order, the Forest Department gave permission for more trees to be cut after PWD cited the necessity for further construction. So far, 800 of the total 1,476 trees marked have been cut, and the PWD and Forest Department have asked for permission to cut 206 of the remaining 676 trees. The applicants have cited the poor record of municipal agencies and Forest Department in carrying out compensatory afforestation as per norms. The next hearing in the matter will be on June 18.

 

 Hindu, Delhi, 18th June 2014