Vasant Kunj society wants to be party to tree-felling case

A group of residents have intervened in a legal battle about the unlawful felling of trees for a road-widening project in Vasant Kunj,saying that since construction has been on hiatus,their neighborhood is in shambles.

Written by Kamala Kelkar | New Delhi | Published: June 11, 2013 2:01 am

A group of residents have intervened in a legal battle about the unlawful felling of trees for a road-widening project in Vasant Kunj,saying that since construction has been on hiatus,their neighborhood is in shambles.

The All Residents Welfare Society,representing pockets A and D 1-4 in Vasant Kunj,told the National Green Tribunal on Monday that since the court order in March asking the Public Works Department to stop felling trees without permission,all work was stopped. The stay order was issued because a resident claimed that the PWD was illegally felling hundreds of trees for widening the 3-km stretch from Andheria Mor to Mahipalpur,where traffic snarls are a common.

The PWD had finished about a third of the project when NGT ordered the stay.

According to the society,the PWD stopped work and left deep ditches lying open and wires and sewage pipelines exposed,which has clogged drains. So the society applied to the Tribunal,asking that it be added as a party in the case.

“The PWD seems to carry the impression that the entire work has been stalled,” an advocate for the society who lives in the area told the bench. “All that we want is our drainage system restored.”

Justice U D Salvi,presiding on the vacation bench for the month,clarified that the stay ordered by the NGT in March was exclusively for the felling of trees and that other work could continue.

“The present proceedings have affected or are likely to affect the local residents in the vicinity,” Justice Salvi said. “Let it be clarified that the order merely directs the respondents not to fell any trees except in cases where prior permission from the concerned department has been obtained.”

He did not specifically order the PWD to tie up the loose ends as requested by the society,but did ask to notify the respondents and the original applicant that the society will be participating in the next hearing in July.

Vasant Kunj resident Sonya Ghosh,the original applicant in the case,said she has no objections to the society joining the case.

In previous hearings,PWD officials and the contractor denied having felled any trees illegally,but agreed that they were uprooted. During the July hearing,they are to provide proof in their defence.

A third party is also supposed to present a report on the number of trees felled.

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