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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Include all trees in building plans to minimise felling: Forest official to MCDs

The letter points to an instance in Hauz Khas Enclave in March when two full-grown neem trees were felled though they were within the setback area.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: October 24, 2021 9:26:36 am
The letter explains that this could lead to felling of all trees standing on public land outside any plot. (File)

The Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), South division, has written to commissioners of Delhi’s municipal corporations stating that building plans that are approved should include the location of all trees at the site to prevent unnecessary felling.

“Whenever any construction or reconstruction activity takes place in a plot, trees located in the setback area of the plot and those located outside the plot boundary on public land or the street are almost always proposed to be felled by applicants…,” noted the letter from Amit Anand, DCF, South division, who is also the Tree Officer.

A setback area is a certain area around the plot within which construction is not permitted. The letter points to an instance in Hauz Khas Enclave in March when two full-grown neem trees were felled though they were within the setback area.

The letter goes on to explain that this could lead to a situation where all trees standing on public land outside any plot will be felled, “leaving no avenue trees inside residential colonies”.

Anand said, “When a building plan is being approved, it should include the location of all trees vis-à-vis the plot where construction is taking place. Due diligence should be done by the agencies while approving these plans.”

He explained that when forest department officials inspect the site on ground for tree felling permissions, they are
not sure which trees will be affected as the plans do not specify that. “Applicants then tell us that the trees in the setback area are also included in the plan,” he said.

Besides, in one building, multiple entry gates are sometimes being approved and permissions are sought to fell trees to facilitate movement. “This is rampant. If you remove trees from the entire frontage of the building for the gates, trees will no longer be left in the city,” said Anand, adding that before approving building plans, the agencies concerned must ensure that tree felling is minimised.

The Unified Building Bylaws for Delhi mention that building plans must include existing physical features including trees. Anand’s letter to the MCD commissioners states that if all trees are not marked in the approved building plans, he may be “constrained to reject the approved plan and direct the user agency to approach the competent authority for a revised building plan”.

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