New Delhi, Jul 2: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has put a stay on the proposed felling of over 16,000 trees in Delhi till July 19. The authority has also issued notices to NDMC and DDA in connection with the matter. Hearing a plea filed by an NGO, it directed National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) and Central Public Works Department (CPWD) to maintain status quo of not cutting the trees for re-development of 7 colonies until further orders.

The petitioner – Society for Protection of Culture, Heritage, Environment, Traditions & Promotion of National Awareness – recently filed plea in the NGT claiming that environmental clearance has been granted for seven general pool residential colonies without taking into account possible adverse effect on the ecology.

It said the clearance has been granted for colonies in Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Nauroji Nagar through the NBCC and in Kasturba Nagar, Thyagraj Nagar, Srinivaspuri and Mohammadpur through the CPWD,.

The plea claimed that planting of saplings at another location as compensatory afforestation would not reduce the burden put on the environment due to large-scale felling of trees.

The petition heard by a bench of Acting NGT Chairperson Justice Jawad Rahim has made the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Central Pollution Control Board, the Delhi Development Authority, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, the CPWD and others as parties in the case.

Anil Sood, president of the NGO, said that the Centre has given clearance to the projects without considering several factors such as existing population density and the impact of cutting 16,500 trees on the ambient air quality in the area.

The plea said an environment impact assessment report for the project around south Delhi shows that 11,000 trees will be cut in Sarojini Nagar, 1,465 will be cut in Nauroji Nagar, 3,033 will be chpped off from Netaji Nagar and another 520 will be felled from Kasturba Nagar out of a total of 19,976 trees in these areas.

The re-development scheme plans to replace existing units of Type I to IV with a built-up area of around 749,000 square metres with Type II to VI units with built-up area of around 2.91 million sqm with supporting infrastructure facilities.

The projects will also develop government office accommodation of nearly 242,000 sqm in Netaji Nagar. The total estimated project cost of Rs 328 billion includes maintenance and operation costs for 30 years and will be completed in five years in a phased manner.

(Inputs from agencies)