New Delhi, June 23: Residents on Sunday were seen staging a protest against cutting of trees under redevelopment project in Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar and Netaji Nagar areas, news agency ANI reported. Also Read - Raveena Tandon Comes Forth To Help Amid COVID-19 Crisis, Sends Oxygen Cylinders to Delhi

In the wake of Delhi locals protesting against a massive felling of trees, Managing Director of NBCC Anoop Kumar Mittal issued a clarification today, saying that the number of trees slated to be cut is much lesser than that reported. Speaking to ANI, Mittal said that the state-owned construction firm had been given the responsibility to develop three colonies- Nauroji Nagar, Sarojini Nagar and Netaji Nagar, out of seven in which houses were not in a condition to be inhabited. Also Read - IPL 2021: CSK Batting Coach Michael Hussey Tests Negative For Covid-19

“We have the permission to cut 1400 trees in Nauroji Nagar and 2200 in Netaji Nagar. Nothing is finalised in Sarojini Nagar yet. That’s only 3600 trees, not 16,000. The number of trees in the four colonies that are to be developed by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) is also less. Replanting and replacement of trees is underway,” Mittal added.

Meanwhile, a petitioner in the National Green Tribunal, Anil Sood suggested that the government did not have the permission for the mass-felling of trees as he had not received any response from the conservator of forests.

The mass tree-felling move comes at a time when the air pollution levels in the city are at an all-time high with the current Air Quality Index level hovering around the unhealthy mark (between 150 and 200). On Friday night, a protest held under the “Delhi Trees SOS” campaign was held to make people aware of the redevelopment projects and urge the government to avoid cutting trees for the same.

Also, public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Delhi High Court against the same developmental project earlier that day. The petitioner claimed that the permission was granted incorrectly to cut over 2500 trees for various development projects.

The plea further said that the felling of trees had started in at least six locations of the national capital. Trees have been cut in Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Kasturba Nagar, Tyagraj Nagar, Srinivaspuri, and Mohammadpur areas of Delhi.

The high court issued notices to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, state-owned construction firm NBCC, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and others. However, it refused to put a stay on the construction projects for now.

The court would now hear the plea on an urgent basis on Monday.

(With agency inputs)