The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has served notices to 14 authorities directing them to remove all boards, nails and advertisements from trees falling under their jurisdictions and has directed the authorities to de-concretise the trees.

Following a petition filed by Aditya N. Prasad and others, the Tribunal issued notices to three Union Ministries – Ministry of Environment and Forests, Ministry of Human Resources Development and the Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation – as also the Central Public Works Department, the Delhi Development Authority, National Highways Authority of India and the Delhi Cantonment Board seeking their response in the matter.

The Delhi Government’s Department of Forests and Wildlife, Public Works Department and the Urban Development Department were the other departments asked to ensure that the trees are protected. The four civic bodies of North, South and East Delhi and the New Delhi Municipal Council have also been served notices in this regard.

Senior advocate Rajiv Dutta, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner, said that guidelines had been issued several years ago for greening of urban spaces and landscaping in Delhi. “The Delhi Government has issued guidelines with regard to how trees have to be protected. In 2007, the Delhi High Court had also directed authorities to clean up their act and this was followed up by another order in 2010,” he said, speaking to The Hindu.

Mr. Prasad had also filed RTI application in all departments asking why the guidelines were not implemented, said Mr. Dutta. A report was also submitted on a tree census conducted in Sarvodaya Enclave which found that 89 per cent of trees suffer from concretisation. The order issued by the NGT took this report into consideration, he said.

Complete apathy

“There is complete apathy among the various authorities towards protecting trees. Not just authorities but even among citizens,” noted Mr. Dutta, adding the Tribunal’s notice is a step towards protecting the Capital’s trees. “The Tribunal was very straightforward in ordering the authorities to clean up their act,” he said.