National Green Tribunal orders to keep on hold felling of 2,000 trees in Vikas Puri-Madhuban Chowk road project

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered that status quo be maintained by the Delhi Government’s Public Works Department in the matter of felling of nearly 2,000 trees for construction of the Vikas Puri-Madhuban Chowk elevated road project. The next date of hearing is July 12. The petitioners are hoping that this would help in maintaining the precious greens along the proposed project.

The main applicant in the case, Aditya N. Prasad, had earlier written to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit demanding that unnecessary felling of trees by the PWD be stopped and efforts be made to preserve them. Mr. Prasad had stated that the PWD had submitted a request for felling 914 trees standing alongside the Outer Ring Road No. 26 near Meera Bagh, and another 1,000 trees along the Mangol Puri stretch.

He said, “The project schematic map as available on the UTIPPEC website shows that the elevated project is primarily to be constructed on the central verge of the Outer Ring Road. The Road at this location has a right of way of 200 feet, excluding the service lane. However, it has been contended by the PWD in their affidavit before you that the trees need to be felled as they are coming in the alignment of the project. This fact, in my opinion, is not correct as the trees are standing along the service lanes on both sides of the Outer Ring Road and not on the central verge, where the pillars are to be erected.”

The trees are not an obstruction to the elevated road/ flyover as they are more than 220 feet away from the central verge and do not fall in alignment of the project, he said.

Further, he has contended before the Chief Minister and also the NGT that the PWD has provided contradictory reasons for the requirement for felling of trees. In a letter sent in January to the Deputy Conservator of Forests (West) this year, it was stated that the trees are coming in the alignment of the project and thus need to be felled. However, in a form submitted to the same office it has been contended that the trees need to be felled for widening of main carriageway, he pointed out, adding that from this it was clear that the requirement for felling trees is probably for widening of the carriageway so that landscaping, etc., can be done.

Maintaining that “there appears to be no heavenly reason for felling about 2,000 fully grown trees”, Mr. Prasad said, “The service lanes can be easily used if the PWD and Traffic Police ensure that cars are not parked on the main carriageway/service lanes.

Moreover, as of date the roads have been widened on both sides by demolishing the footpaths, thereby gaining about 20 feet. Thus the decision to fell trees cannot be taken on wrong facts, which is clearly visible here.”

In view of these facts, he has urged Ms. Dikshit to direct the departments concerned to consider the feasibility of accommodating the trees in the developmental project before giving permission for felling them.

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