The Indian Army has been asked to stop repair work on a wall in Delhi Cantonment area near Dhaula Kuan over prima facie violation of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA) 1980 by damaging trees in a deemed forest land without permission.
Deputy Conservator of Forest (West) S K Muan Guite told The Indian Express that the Army has been served a notice, and that it does not have permission from the Centre to carry out work in the area under FCA 1980.
“There appears to be a prima facie violation of the Act. A report was submitted to the Chief Conservator of Forests last week, who would now inform the MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests). The MoEF will take necessary action,” Guite said.
As per the Act, non-forest activity in a forest land requires prior permission from the central government. An inspection carried out by the forest department on August 7 found that 27 trees were either felled or damaged and the area around them trenched, along the Ring Road next to the Rajputana Rifles Regimental Centre. Guite said the area is a deemed forest land.
Indian Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand denied that trees had been damaged during repair work. “The work undertaken is primarily a matter of repairing the wall on certified A1 defence land. The scope involves recasting of plinth in the existing wall along with raising of height of the wall at identified places for augmenting security of the Army area. The work pertains to repair of an ‘existing asset’ and does not involve fresh construction.”
Colonel Anand added, “Neither any trees have been damaged in the process nor any intent for such an act exists within this organisation.”
DCF Guite sent a report to the Chief Conservator of Forests in Delhi on August 19, listing 27 trees found to have been damaged in the area during inspection. At least six trees were reported to have been felled, one was found with “only root stump”, one was “cut from the upper part”, and others had roots exposed.
DCF Guite said in the report, “No such permission is issued by this office for felling of trees at the area in question.”
He added that the official who went for an inspection on August 7 was not allowed to enter Delhi Cantt premises and was threatened by the contractor at the site.
“After considering all the facts, it is prima facie found that offence under FCA 1980 may be committed by Army (HQ) in the said area,” the report said.
Colonel Anand said that no damage to the environment is foreseen or planned by the Army.
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