To prevent illegal felling of trees in the national capital, the Delhi High Court has directed the commissioners of municipal corporations to consider incorporating a rule which will make it mandatory for people to intimate authorities about existence of trees or other foliage in and around their land or buildings while applying for approval of plans.
Justice Najmi Waziri said that the move will help the corporation ascertain whether any tree exists inside or outside a property which could be endangered by any kind of construction activity.
“Should it be found, the Corporation would refer the matter to the Tree Officer, GNCTD to take appropriate action, as may be. There is no dispute between the learned counsel for the respondents apropos that preservation of fully grown trees is an absolute necessity especially because compensatory afforestation can never replace the lost green cover of a neighbourhood,” the court stated.
The photographs taken from inside and outside the “building/site, at least from east, west, south and north directions, along with a panoramic photograph of the streets immediately outside the plot of land/building concerned” need to be filed along with the plans, the court added.
The court passed the order after Delhi government’s additional standing counsel Gautam Narayan said that tree officers of the forest department generally notice rampant cutting of trees whenever constructions or renovations are sanctioned. Stating that building plans are applied and sanctioned online, Narayan told the court that construction sites are never visited by the municipal corporations.
“Building plans are sanctioned unbeknownst of the consequences that would befall a neighbourhood by chopping down fully-grown trees. Although petitions are filed before this court seeking remedial measures, by that time, irreparable damage has already been done,” Narayan submitted, while suggesting that certain preventive steps need to be mandated by the municipal corporations.
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