The Delhi High Court on Friday declined to put on hold the felling of trees sanctioned by the Centre in connection with the re-development of six south Delhi colonies by the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
While refusing to pass any interim order, a vacation bench of Justices A K Chawla and Navin Chawla issued notice to the ministries of Housing and Environment as well as the NBCC, CPWD and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and sought their stand on a plea challenging the environment clearance given to the housing projects.
The bench said it was not inclined to grant an ex-parte order at the moment and wanted to hear the NBCC before issuing any direction. It also told the petitioner, an orthopaedic surgeon, that the project was going on for several months while the environment clearances were given in 2017-18.
The PIL has sought setting aside of the terms of reference (ToR) and the environment clearances (EC) granted to the project by the Environment Ministry, saying it would lead to felling of over 16,500 trees.
The six south Delhi colonies where the trees would be felled are Sarojini Nagar, Naoroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Mohammadpur and Kasturba Nagar, the petition by Dr Kaushal Kant Mishra said.
According to the petition, the separate ECs for each area were granted between November last year and June this year. The petition has claimed that planting of saplings in another location as compensatory afforestation would not reduce the burden which would be put on the environment due to the large-scale felling of trees.
It claimed that the saplings would be a “poor substitute” for the fully grown trees that would be felled for the housing projects.