DDA erasing proof of tree felling in Ridge area: Ministers’ panel

Ministers inspect Satbari forest area to ascertain the extent of tree felling; 1,100 trees cut to build a road in forest against SC ban, claims Bharadwaj

Published - July 10, 2024 01:06 am IST - New Delhi 

A three-member fact-finding committee of Delhi Ministers on Tuesday inspected Satbari forest area in the Ridge and accused the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) of “erasing” evidence of “illegal felling” of over one thousand trees.

The office of Lieutenant-Governor V.K. Saxena, who is the DDA chairperson, did not respond to queries on the issue.

The matter had come to limelight after the Supreme Court last month rapped the DDA over the felling of 1,100 trees in the Ridge area without its permission and asked it if it was done on the orders of Mr. Saxena.

On June 29, the Delhi government constituted the panel, comprising Urban Development Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj, Revenue Minister Atishi, and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Imran Hussain, while maintaining that its report will be submitted to the apex court before July 12, the next date of hearing of the case.

Mr. Bharadwaj said hundreds of trees were cut, violating a ban imposed by the Supreme Court, to build a road that now passes through the middle of the Satbari forest area to SAARC Chowk.

The Urban Development Minister alleged that the DDA is now removing roots of the chopped trees and covering the spots with a layer of soil to “erase evidence”.

He said one side of the road is dotted with farmhouses owned by multimillionaires whose land could have been taken to construct the stretch instead of denuding the tree cover.

“1,100 trees were cut without the apex court’s nod,” he said. Mr. Bharadwaj also claimed that according to people living around the Ridge, the L-G had visited the area many times.

‘Officers hiding facts’

Ms. Atishi said the felling of trees is a matter of concern. “But it is more worrying that officers are hiding facts,” she said.

“The Delhi government panel has found that the officers are constantly making excuses, not submitting papers or attending meetings. This clearly shows that an attempt is being made to hide facts,” added Ms. Atishi.

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