New Delhi: In a relief to residents, the Delhi High Court on Monday asked authorities not to axe till July 4 the 16,500 trees set to be cut for a residential project here.
A bench of Justice Vinod Goel and Justice Rekha Palli asked the National Buildings Construction Corp (NBCC), which was tasked with redeveloping six south Delhi colonies, not to cut the trees till the next date of hearing.
The NBCC assured the bench that it will not chop any trees till July 4.
During the hearing, the court asked the NBCC: “You know the effect it would have? I understand if it was widening of a road or something inevitable. Can Delhi afford it today? Keep your hands off till July 4.”
The court’s observations came after senior advocate J.P. Sengh, appearing for the NBCC, contended that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has the jurisdiction to hear pleas challenging environment clearances granted to any project by the Central government.
He argued that NGT had permitted felling of trees for the project and the issue was still pending in the green court and would be heard next on July 2.
The NBCC has also deposited Rs 8 crore with the tree authority for permission to fell trees, the lawyer added.
On the other hand, the petitioner’s advocate apprised the court that this matter also involved permission given in November 2017 by the tree authority of the Delhi government to fell the trees and this decision cannot be challenged in the NGT.
The court then permitted the petitioner, an orthopaedic surgeon, to amend his plea till July 4 and challenge the decision of the tree authority giving permission to cut the trees for these residential projects.
The petitioner, Kaushal Kant Mishra, has sought the setting aside of the terms of reference and the environment clearances granted to the project by the Environment Ministry, saying that it would lead to felling of over 16,500 trees.
The six south Delhi colonies where the trees would be felled are Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Mohammadpur and Kasturba Nagar, the petition said.
All these areas are home to government employees where the Central government is pulling down houses built in the 1950s and replacing them with high-rise buildings.
Besides the NBCC, the project is also being executed by the Central Public Works Department.