New Delhi, June 28: Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday said that the Centre had not given permission for the mass felling of trees in South Delhi for the re-construction project of several colonies. The environment ministry also released a statement in this regard. The statement read, “The Government of NCT of Delhi has neither taken any permission nor does it need to take any such permission from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.”

The statement added that all such tree felling is “carried out with the approval of concerned authorities of Delhi Government and permissions have been given as per the Delhi Preservation of Tree Act, 1994, which is a State Act.”

Vardhan reaction came after Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain wrote a letter regarding the violation of rules in the felling of trees in South Delhi. Hussain said in the letter that the National Buildings and Construction Company (NBCC) failed to comply with an order of National Green Tribunal (NGT) in September 2017, which stated, “The plants shall be planted as a condition precedent to the cutting of the trees.”

On Monday, the Delhi High Court had state-owned construction company NBCC not to cut any more trees in the capital till July 4. The NBCC was tasked with developing seven South Delhi colonies for which thousands of trees need to be axed.

Around 16,500 trees were likely to be cut down for the redevelopment of office and residential complex for central government officials in Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Mohammadpur, Tyagraj Nagar among others.

The petitioner, an orthopaedic surgeon, has sought the setting aside of the terms of reference and the environment clearances 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, Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Mohammadpur and Kasturba Nagar, the petition by Kaushal Kant Mishra said. All these areas are home to government employees where the central government is pulling down houses built in the 1950 and replacing them with high-rise buildings.