Citing the delay in granting permissions for projects whose “ultimate aim is to reduce environmental pollution”, the Delhi government’s forest department has filed an application in the Delhi High Court asking that the court’s earlier order staying tree felling be modified. The projects include expansion of the Delhi Metro and laying new power lines for the power grid, which will result in closure of the polluting Badarpur Power Plant.
The High Court had passed the order on the petition against redevelopment in seven south Delhi colonies, to be carried out by National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) and Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
The order, passed on July 4, said, “Till further hearing, the… tree officer shall be prohibited from granting any permission for cutting or felling of trees without the leave of this court.”
On July 27, the court had clarified that the prohibition would not apply to “circumstances where tree felling is necessary for reasons that the tree is dead or that the tree constitutes a danger to life or property”. The forest department, in the application, has said that because of these orders, it is not being able to grant permission for tree felling and “even important projects which are related to larger public interest have come to a halt owing to the present proceedings”.
The court will hear the matter on Thursday. Among the projects that have been stalled, is road widening by NHAI, which the application says will help reduce traffic congestion and vehicular emissions.
According to Delhi government officials, among the most crucial projects stuck is the laying of new power grid lines so that an alternate arrangement can be made for power supply and the Badarpur thermal power plant, among the most polluting in the country, can be shut. The deadline for the final closure of the plant was July.