Till further orders,No tree felling in South Delhi colonies: NGT

New Delhi: The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the National Buildings Construction Corporation, will insure not a single tree to be cut and status quo be maintained on tree felling till further orders in seven South Delhi colonies, the National Green Tribunal directed today.
A bench headed by Acting NGT Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim issued notices to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, NBCC, Central Pollution Control Board, Central Public Works Department, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and others, asking them to file their responses before July 19, the next date of hearing.
The green panel directed the project proponents to make a categorical statement and inform it about the exact number of trees proposed to be cut for the redevelopment project for about half a dozen colonies.

The NGT said that although the case commenced before the High Court, but keeping in mind the likely imminent danger to the ecology and the proposal of the project proponent to fell around 17,000 trees, was likely to seriously impact the environment unless a proper impact assessment is done.

It also impleaded the Ministry of Environment and Forests as a party in the case and sought its reply in the matter before next date of hearing.

“Therefore, even though we give sufficient time to the project proponent to file their replies to the interim relief, but we are satisfied that a prima facie case is made out for grant of ad-interim order in the nature of protective order so as to protect environment … and its preservation is essential.

“Hence applying the precautionary principle, we direct the Respondent No. 1 and 2 to maintain status-quo, particularly in the matter relating felling of the trees and direct that there shall be no felling/cutting/destruction of the trees till further order by this tribunal,” the bench said.

During the hearing, the senior advocate Kailash Vasudeva and NGO president Anil Sood said the proposed felling of trees involved more than 17,000 trees which will destroy the ecology and adversely affect the environment.

The submission was vehemently opposed by the Ministry and the project proponent and said that number of trees mentioned by the applicants was an exaggeration.
The tribunal was hearing a plea by NGO – Society for Protection of Culture, Heritage, Environment, Traditions & Promotion of National Awareness, Green Circle and city resident Utkarsh Bansal seeking a stay on the proposed felling of more than 16,000 trees for re-development of the colonies.

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