New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) Observing that damage to environment cannot be undone, the Delhi High Court on Thursday extended till further orders the ban on axing of 16,500 trees for the construction of high-rise residential quarters for central government employees in the national capital. It directed the Centre to submit all the files pertaining to grant of environment clearance for the project.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar said: “The damage to the environment is irreplaceable.” The court also observed that the redevelopment project would worsen the traffic and pollution problems of the city.
The court’s remarks came after a submission by the National Buildings Construction Corp (NBCC) that pollution in Delhi is high in October and November due to stubble burning in neighbouring states and in May-June due to dust storms.
The NBCC said the residential project was that of the central government and it was sanctioned in accordance with the Delhi Master Plan.
“There must be a green Master Plan,” the court remarked.
Amicus curiae Gautam Bhan told the court that the current project seemed to have got the environmental clearance in an arbitrary manner and there was need to have a re-look at the process of granting environmental clearances.
The court listed the matter for next hearing on August 20.
It was hearing a plea filed by orthopaedic surgeon Kaushal Kant Mishra, who challenged the permission granted to cut trees for the residential project.
The Court has also sought response of Delhi Government and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
The six south Delhi colonies where the trees would be cut are Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Mohammadpur and Kasturba Nagar.
The court was also hearing a contempt plea by environmentalist Vimlendu Jha, who alleged that there was a “deliberate and wilful default” of the June 25 undertaking given to the court by the NBCC.
He said that the alleged contemnor (NBCC CMD) had undertaken not to cut trees in areas concerned till July 4, but it has been noticed that officials and workers of NBCC were axing trees in Netaji Nagar in south Delhi.
Besides the NBCC, the Central Public Works Department is executing the project.