J. Venkatesan

On plea to re-locate the sports stadiums for C’Wealth Games

‘Site selected should be such as to cause minimum disruption to the environment’

The Bench sought reply within a week from the respondents and posted the matter for May 16.

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Delhi Development Authority, the Delhi Government and the Commonwealth Games Committee on an application for a direction to them to re-locate the sports stadiums to be constructed near Siri Fort auditorium to some other site as it involved cutting of over 1,000 trees.

The application wanted them to ensure that any site selected should be such as to cause minimum disruption to the environment, and if such new sites involved felling of trees, it should be done only after obtaining permission from the Supreme Court.

It sought a direction to the Central Empowered Committee to submit a report on the steps to be taken to restore the area by replanting a forest in that green belt and to initiate proceedings against the officials concerned for committing a breach of Supreme Court orders.

The “forest bench” of the Court comprising Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice S. H. Kapadia issued notice on the application from amicus curiae Harish Salve expressing serious concern over the cutting of 836 trees to facilitate construction of the new sports complex.

The Bench sought reply within a week from the respondents and posted the matter for further hearing on May 16.

The application alleged that on the night of April 27 the natural forest adjoining the Golf Driving Range along Siri Fort Road and going all the way to Panchasheel area was severely damaged in that a large number of trees – over 800 -- had been felled by the DDA.

“When asked as to why this was done, the DDA senior officials said that it was necessary to remove these trees to make two stadiums admeasuring 30,000 square meters. When they were asked as to why it was necessary to construct the stadiums here (which would involve damaging old existing forests) and had they evaluated other sites which would not cause environmental damage, they said that the site was selected by the ‘games authorities’ and that the question of such an evaluation was not in their domain,” it said.

The applicant submitted that the DDA action was brazenly illegal and unconstitutional.

“Further, before felling of trees, viable alternatives were not considered nor explored. No cost-benefit analysis and the impact of the felling on tress on the environment were undertaken. The only explanation given by the DDA officials present at the site was that they were implementing the decision taken by the Games Organizing Committee. No justification for felling of such a large number of trees was forthcoming.”

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