NGT reaches out to protect trees

Elevated Corridor Case -Dr. PC Prasad & Ors v GNCTD

The matter regarding the Elevated Corridor on the Outer Ring Road was heard today, wherein the Tribunal had ordered status quo to be maintained with respect to the standing trees.

It was contended by the PWD that no trees had been cut, however the Judges questioned them on the pictures of cut and damaged trees provided by the applicant. The Tribunal asked the PWD about the EIA clearance but the Ministry of Environment and Forest sought time to file reply. The Tribunal Clarified that the applicant’s contention is that the project could not proceed without EIA clearance. The Govt of Delhi and PWD then contented that the trees be allowed to be felled that were on the central verge at least, the Tribunal asked them about the place and locations of compensatory plantation, which they were not be able to clarify. The Tribunal asked them to spell out the locations where they are planning to undertake compensatory plantation and pinpoint them. The Tribunal asserted that they will not allow the trees to be felled unless compensatory plantation is started first. The Tribunal Then asked whether the Forest department had considered that the project could accommodate the existing trees and if they could be transplanted. To which the counsels nodded their heads and the applicant submitted that the project was never considered by the forest department while it was being planned, as Uttipec does not have any representative of the Forest Department on its board.

The Applicant then submitted that the schematic diagram of the project shows that the elevated road does not effect the trees on either sides of the road, they are only being felled to make way for a bus lane, footpath etc, this was explained to the bench through a whiteboard. This can be easily mitigated by shifting the lanes onto the other side of the tree line.
The Tribunal then gave the following directions:-
An expert committee is formed consisting of:
1. Conservator of Forest, Delhi
2. SE, PWD
3. Senior Officer from UTTIPEC
4. Scientist nominated by the ICFRE
The committee would pay a personal visit to the locations and –
1. Examine which trees can be transplanted
2. Examine which trees should be transplanted first
3. Along with the Conservator of Forest, identify the places where compensatory plantation would take place along with the khasra no. Etc of the location

The report shall be submitted within one week.

10 times no. Of trees going to be cut or transplanted , shal be planted. Also earmark space on the site of the road under question – where trees would be transplanted or new plantation would take place.

All these directions are in consonance with the Forest Departments notification, the Tribunal is only implementing it. Plantation should begin forthwith. Interim orders on status quo on felling of trees to continue.
Next date of hearing is 31st July

Note: “ The affidavit filed by the forest department admitted that the Forest department was not represented in the UTTIPEc which approves projects and the many trees have suffered incidental damage at the site.

कुछ-न-कुछ होगा यदि मै बोलूँगा;
सत्ता का तिलिस्म न टूटे,
मेरे अन्दर का एक कायर टूटेगा!

Citizen’s Reporter
Sudhakar Tiwari