Pulling up the counsel for the Delhi government for failing to file details on the number of trees felled in the city in the last 10 years and the revenue generated by granting permission for cutting down trees, the high court on Wednesday directed the forest department to submit its affidavit within one week.
Standing counsel Raman Duggal, appearing for the Delhi government, told the court that no revenue had been generated from the sale of timber as they were handed over for free to the crematoriums run by the civic bodies.
“People are dying because of pollution so you are giving trees away for cremation,” commented the court.
The HC also pointed out that it had sought details of the revenue garnered from the fees charged for granting permission for the felling of trees.
“Revenue figures should be supplied in the next affidavit,” said the court of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, and also sought details on how many trees the Delhi government had permitted to be cut down.
“You should have the records if you gave permission,” said the bench.
Amicus curie senior advocate Kailash Vasdev informed the court that the most important pollutant in the city was particulate matter, produced by the continued digging work on the city’s roads, among other things.
“A lot of building activity is going on and various Delhi departments keep digging up the roads and leaving them unrepaired. Dust and particulate matter from the material is a major source of pollution,” said Vasdev. “At any given point of time, over 220 km of roads in Delhi are dug up,” alleged the advocate.
The court has now directed the Delhi government to file a detailed affidavit on how many roads are dug up in the city and the time period taken for repairing them. “It is up to the concerned commissioner to ensure that road repair is done at a reasonable speed,” commented the court. The bench has also sought data from the civic bodies on the revenue collected by them by granting permission to dig up the roads, and where this money was being spent.
The directions were issued while the court was hearing a suo motu PIL on air pollution, which was taken up by it earlier this year. The matter will now be heard next Wednesday.