All agree that trees in Vasant Kunj cut illegally,but no one admits to felling them

Trees cut for PWD project; agency,contractor say it was illegal,but deny cutting trees.

Written by Kamala Kelkar | New Delhi | Published: May 28, 2013 1:38 am

As the National Green Tribunal continued hearing the case of illegal felling of trees in Vasant Kunj,all parties to the case on Tuesday agreed that the trees had been felled illegally for PWD’s road-widening project.

But with no one ready to own up and take responsibility,it was just another round of blamegame.

The PWD executive engineer,who had earlier apologised to the NGT for denying that the trees were felled illegally,blamed the contractor of the project. The contractor,on the other hand,rejected the allegation.

The PWD and contractor,however,did agree with the Forest department report that at least 48 trees have been felled in the neighbourhood.

“Stop playing with the Tribunal,” Justice Kumar said. “It is clear that the chief engineer,the executive engineer and the contractor are trying their best to keep back true facts from the Tribunal.”

Construction on the 3-km project in the high-traffic area from Andheria Mor to Mahipalpur started early last year. But the NGT put a stop on the project in March after a resident of Vasant Kunj,Sonya Ghosh,moved the tribunal claiming that hundreds of trees had been uprooted in the area without proper clearance.

Last week,Justice Kumar ordered all government agencies concerned to file a collaborative report along with Ghosh,estimating the overall damage. The report was to submitted by Tuesday.

The report mentioned that 120 trees were removed or uprooted and left to die and some were buried on DDA land,possibly to to hide the crime. It said the PWD needs to cut 766 more trees to finish the remaining two-thirds of the project.

Justice Kumar has now ordered a third party,Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education,to work on an independent report.

He also ordered the two PWD officials,who had denied illegal felling of trees,and the contractor to submit sufficient evidence in their defence.

The NGT scheduled the next hearing for July 11 and ended the hearing by saying: “We shall not spare if you lie before us”.

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