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Vasant Kunj trees hacked,carted to furniture market

Asked to prune,they hacked the trees. That’s the green story in pockets B and C of Vasant Kunj in South Delhi.

Written by Sweta Dutta | New Delhi |
January 14, 2009 12:51:20 am

Asked to prune,they hacked the trees. That’s the green story in pockets B and C of Vasant Kunj in South Delhi.

The violation,Newsline has found,is two-pronged: while more than 300 trees were damaged,with branches lopped off in violation of the forest department’s order of only “light pruning”,the contractor awarded the task by MCD carted the logs to a furniture dealer. The forest department,though,had ordered them to be given “only” to public crematoriums in “public interest”.

The order came after the Residents’ Welfare Association (RWA) sought permission from the forest department for light pruning to clear the way for sunlight and air in many houses blocked by the unruly branches. But what the residents found instead was heavy hacking,Ramesh Vachani,one of the earliest residents of Sector A,Pocket B and C,said.

“Some of us residents lodged a formal complaint with the forest department,” another resident,Anuradha Marwah,said. “We then found that the forest department had actually given permission for ‘light pruning’ but the contractor,given the tender by MCD,flouted rules and

cut several trees with a commercial motive.”

Marwah said “truckloads of logs” were carried out of the colony for days. “Even the trees that have supposedly been pruned lightly are in effect damaged badly.”

Inside the colony,it’s easy to spot branches of trees near windows left intact while heavier branches facing the open have been lopped off. “The geometry of the trees has been fiddled with,” Vachani said,“and many of them already have sap oozing out. Perhaps many won’t survive another year.”

The permission letter from Deputy Conservator of Forest and Tree Rajesh Sobhanakumar (Newsline has a copy) says: “The landowning agencies shall ensure that wood/lops/tops arising out of pruning should find its way only to the public crematoria in Delhi.”

The contractor,Ashok Kumar,was found to have supplied the logs to a furniture shop owned by one Madan Lal Wadhwan at Kirti Nagar timber market. Kumar told Newsline that the permission was for light pruning as well as cutting heavy trees. “The sanction was for a total of 250 trees. There was a formal tender with the MCD and I paid Rs 35,000 for it to get the project. I got the wood and have already sold it.”

Following the letter from Deputy Conservator Forest (west),MCD in an auction on September 29,2008 (no. ADH/NG2/vc/08/432) had provided Ashok Kumar (of B-13 Kirti Nagar) a work order for pruning 250 trees of various species. MCD spokesperson Deep Mathur said,“The civic body can auction and buy back the wood or it has to be sent to public crematoria. There is another provision in case of heavy cutting: MCD auctions the wood to highest bidder and then the contractor owns the rights.”

But civic officials clarified that this particular work order was for light pruning.

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