New Delhi: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on Thursday stopped work on the Keshopur-Peeragarhi stretch in Phase 4 on the directions of the Forest Department which had accused it of violating the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. Also Read - Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, COVID-19 Positive, Also Diagnosed With Dengue After Being Hospitalised For Fever

“We have stopped work on the Keshopur-Peeragarhi stretch and will resume work after all mandatory approvals are met,” Anuj Dayal, Executive Director (Corporate Communications), DMRC, said. Also Read - Delhi Has Crossed Peak of Second Coronavirus Wave: Arvind Kejriwal

The stretch is part of the 28.92 km-long Janakpuri West – R K Ashram Marg corridor which is an extension of the Magenta Line. Also Read - 11-Year-Old Delhi Boy Sets Off For Haridwar on His Bicycle After Being Scolded By Mom

A DMRC official, however, said talks are on to find a solution to the issue.

According to the Deputy Conservator of Forests, West Division, the DMRC did not have requisite permission to undertake work on a 5.34-km stretch of Road Number 26 between Vikas Puri and Peeragarhi Chowk and a 1,300-meter square portion of the Najafgarh drain which are deemed forest areas.

Multiple notices were issued in February and August, asking the DMRC “not to carry out any construction work on the portion of Road Number 26 and Najafgarh drain”, according to the Forest Department.

“The DMRC disobeyed the directions issued and refused to stop work on Road Number 26 and prima facie violated the Forest Conservation Act, 1980,” it said.

The Forest Department had filed a violation report with the Union Environment Ministry, alleging severe damage to trees due to the DMRC work at the two locations and lodged complaints at Vikas Puri and Mianwali police stations regarding the matter.

However, the DMRC claimed that “the issue of deemed forest came up only in August” and the same was never pointed out by the Forest Department in any of the visits conducted.

“The location of the same (deemed forest) is also not established through any authenticated record. It is being established through Google Earth images only, wherein the exact location of the 5.34 kilometres is not known. It may be outside the DMRC alignment as well,” it said.

The DMRC said it would be happy to cooperate if there is further clarity on this issue.

“Delays in timely completion of projects also cause a very adverse impact on the environment as heavy machinery and workers are deployed for a longer period,” it said.

The DMRC claimed it had applied for tree cutting permissions for the stretch between Krishna Park and Mukarba Chowk in April, 2018.

The application was sent again in September, 2019. In this period, at least seven joint visits took place with forest officials regarding the trees along the Metro alignment. However, the tree cutting permissions are still awaited.

“As a professional organisation, the DMRC lays great emphasis on completion of projects on time as these projects are planned and executed for public good. Inordinate delays, owing to lack of such approvals and clearances also cause escalation in costs and inconveniences to the general public,” it said.

The Delhi Metro also said that it was the first ever rail-based organisation in the world to claim carbon credits and hence, “we would not take any step which would cause any harm to the city’s green cover”.