DELHI: The alleged felling of 267 trees in South Delhi’s Vasant Kunj for the controversial Andheria More-Mahipalpur road-widening project has compelled environmentalist and Delhi University Associate Professor Sonya Ghosh to take up the case with the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
According to Prof. Ghosh, also a resident of Vasant Kunj, the basic purpose was to apprise the tribunal about “how the Public Works Department through the contractor had recklessly and surreptitiously felled hundreds of trees along this road without seeking approval from the Forest Department”.
Speaking to The Hindu, Prof. Ghosh said the felling of trees was extremely damaging to the environment. “It will lead to ecological degradation as Vasant Kunj is situated on quartzite land of the Aravalli ridge. It is one of the most critical natural areas and is a vital water recharge area where 85 per cent water percolates as per reports published by the Central Ground Water Authority. The area acts as a green buffer, a sink for pollution and ensures ground water recharge on an annual basis.”
The NGT will deliver the verdict on January 6.
“The PWD needs to at least acknowledge that the felling of trees has dangerous ramifications to the environment. The fact that a crime had been committed cannot be denied by any authority. It needs to be noted that the widening of road was cleared in principle. By January, it was becoming apparent as to what the contractor was doing.”
“Tragically, mounds of malba has been dumped on the road,” said Prof. Ghosh, who filed the application under Sections 14 and 15 of the NGT Act, in March this year.
“The Forest Research Institute of Dehradun, examined the area and observed that 267 trees have been uprooted. Though the NGT had put a stay on the cutting of trees, the clandestine dumping of malba is still being carried out.” Prof. Ghosh, also a co-opted member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, said she would be approaching the new Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal since he has a broad plan to root out corruption at all levels. According to Rajiv Makin, a concerned resident of Sector-D of the colony, the widening of road was placed before the 26 governing body meeting of the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre, a statutory body.
“However, the PWD without getting an approval from UTTIPEC gave the contract to a company.”