A show cause notice was issued to the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) Thursday by the Delhi forest department to explain why trees removed for construction of the new Parliament building and approved for transplantation in the Central Vista area were planted elsewhere, forest officials said.
The CPWD was given permission by the department in October to remove 404 trees from the site of the new Parliament building, adjacent to the current Parliament House, and transplant them in eight pockets in the Central Vista area. Forest officials said it was brought to their notice that some of these trees — aged 5 to 50 years — were transplanted in an eco-park being developed by the National Thermal Power Corporation in Badarpur, close to Delhi’s border with Haryana.
A forest department official, on condition of anonymity, said, “We have asked CPWD to confirm this violation and explain the circumstances under which it happened… We will take action as required under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994.”
A senior CPWD official, connected with the Central Vista redevelopment project, confirmed to The Indian Express that “some large trees” removed from the site of the new Parliament building were transplanted in the eco-park.
The official said on condition of anonymity, “The decision was taken after a lot of deliberations with experts and exploring all other options. The site is ultimately an eco-park and we decided to transplant some trees there because there are space constraints in the Central Vista complex.”
“We transplanted some smaller trees within the Central Vista complex and some larger trees in the eco-park because they need more space and here they will be in an 800-acre park, which is also a Government of India project. We will send a clarification about this to the forest department,” the official said.
According to permission granted to the CPWD, it was also asked to plant 4,040 tree saplings of indigenous species and of 6-8 feet height as compensation for the 404 trees removed for building the new Parliament. These 4,040 trees were also required to be planted in eight pockets in the Central Vista area.
The senior CPWD official said about compensatory plantation, “It may have to be done there (eco-park) as no technically suitable and adequate land is available around (Central Vista). We will decide appropriately.”
A forest official said, “Under the Act, there is fine on the death of a tree. At present, there appears to be a violation… The CPWD should have informed us before changing the area for transplantation. We will hear the circumstances under which they changed the area and inspect the site to see if transplantation has been done in the proper manner.”
The number of trees removed for transplantation is also higher than what was mentioned to the Central Environment Ministry’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) in seeking environmental clearance for the project.
A letter from the Ministry dated June 17, which communicated the grant of environmental clearance to CPWD, mentioned, “Project proponent has also informed the EAC that 333 trees exist at plot number 118 (New Parliament building plot). Out of these, 100 trees to be retained and 233 trees to be transplanted and no trees will be cut.”
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