Facing severe backlash from several groups for its plans to cut at least 14,000 trees for redevelopment of seven government colonies in south Delhi, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has decided to re-work the project design to avoid cutting any more trees.
As per documents, close to 1,500 trees have already been felled in Nauroji Nagar — where a commercial complex called the World Trade Centre is to come up — and Netaji Nagar. While redevelopment of residential colonies in Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar and Netaji Nagar is being carried out by the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) Limited, work in Thyagraj Nagar, Kasturba Nagar, Mohammadpur, and Sriniwaspuri is under the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
“NBCC and CPWD will re-work the design and plans for the remaining redevelopment of the 7 GPRA (General Pool Residential Accommodation) colonies to avoid felling/cutting of trees. NBCC has already floated an Expression of Interest for the acquisition of tree re-location/transplantation equipment, and for engaging services of trained professional entities in this respect,” said a statement from the ministry.
The decision was taken in a meeting called by Housing and Urban Affairs minister Hardeep Puri with Delhi L-G Anil Baijal, DDA Vice-Chairperson Uday Pratap Singh, NBCC Chief AK Mittal, CPWD DG Abhai Sinha, among other ministry and CPWD officials.
Reiterating that no more trees will be cut, Puri tweeted, “I have always maintained that the green cover in Delhi will not be damaged and steps will be taken to enhance it even further. As stated earlier, no trees will, henceforth, be cut in the process of redevelopment of Delhi colonies… NBCC/CPWD have been asked to rework and redesign the plans. We will also go ahead with compensatory plan of planting 1 million trees within the next 3 months. Citizen groups will be invited to suggest locations for transplantation.”
While permission to cut 3,780 trees in Nauroji Nagar and Netaji Nagar was granted by the Delhi Forest Department, permission was sought for the remaining trees. Last week, Puri had said that close to 14,000 trees will have to be cut for the project.
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Several groups have been holding protests against the tree felling at Sarojini Nagar for the past week. After the Delhi High Court ordered a stay on the cutting of trees till July 4, groups of people have been conducting a night patrol in Netaji Nagar and Nauroji Nagar to make sure no trees are cut at night.
Puri, meanwhile, also hit out at the Delhi government over the issue. “Facts speak for themselves. All permissions were earlier granted by the forest department of Delhi Government on recommendation of Environment Minister Imran Hussain. I have now asked agencies concerned to rework plans. I hope Delhi government will follow this example in all future plans,” he tweeted.