The Delhi Police Crime Branch has written to the Delhi forest department, asking it to accompany a police team on a survey of the Delhi Golf Club and provide details of the total number of trees, those that were cut, and the logs they recovered.
On July 19, a case had been registered against the club for alleged tree felling on its premises, under sections 8/23/24 of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, after police received a complaint from range forest Satyender Prakash, posted with the south forest division in Tughlakabad.
The letter was written a few days ago, after Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik transferred the case from the Nizamuddin police station to the inter-state cell (ISC) of the crime branch. DCP (crime branch) Rajesh Deo confirmed that they are approaching the Delhi forest department, but refused to divulge investigation details.
“The investigating officer of the ISC will also send a letter to the club, seeking details of employees who have been working there for the last three years,” police sources said.
A complaint against the club had been forwarded to the forest department for felling at least 100 trees two years ago. Sources said the trees were chopped to expand the second golf course — the Peacock Course — two years ago. The trees were cut into smaller logs and buried in pits. According to sources, the club had applied for permission to cut trees two years ago, which was turned down. But it went ahead and cut trees without permission, alleged the source.
Government officials said an inspection of the site was ordered after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal received a complaint from club members.
Officials in the forest department said a final report was filed with the Delhi Environment Ministry by trees officer (south) S K Muan Guite three months ago, after conducting an inspection. He said that logs of different sizes were being dumped in pits and covered with soil, and the process of digging them out, stacking and numbering them was taking longer than expected.
“The total number of logs of considerable size, that qualifies for taking the details of measurement, turns out to be 3,005 and the number of stacks of small branches is six. The logs are numbered with paint, the length and the girth of the logs are also measured and recorded in order to ascertain the gravity of the offence,” Guite said.
Earlier, Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain had told The Indian Express that since entry to the club is not open for non-members, no one realised this was going on. “Many members didn’t raise their voice. This seems to have been done on a large scale,” he said.
As per the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, no one can cut trees in the capital without permission from the forest department and paying for compensatory plantation.