NEW DELHI: A controversial project that requires the cutting of 17,000 trees in Delhi to make way for government officers’ houses and a commercial complex was put on hold by the High Court today. “Has the tree-cutting been approved by the green tribunal,” the court questioned as it put off the project till July 4, the next hearing.
Cutting trees to make way for roads is justified, the court noted. “You want to cut thousands of trees for housing. Can Delhi afford this?” the judge asked the government-run National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), which is overseeing the project.
The petitioner, KK Mishra, has asked the court to stop the central government project to cut thousands of trees for what it calls “redevelopment” of seven colonies in south Delhi. “More than 20,000 trees will be cut in the main south Delhi area. A CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) report states there is a deficit of nine lakh trees in Delhi. I hope the court will put a stay on the order,” the petitioner told reporters.
The plan has provoked huge protests in Delhi, with residents rubbishing the government’s assurance that an equal number of saplings will be planted to make up for the loss.
Saplings, argue environmentalists, cannot replace fully grown trees for years in Delhi, which is among the most-polluted cities in the world.
Residents at Sarojini Nagar, one of the colonies chosen for the project, protested on Sunday by hugging trees in a redux of the 1970s “Chipko movement” to stop the chopping of trees in Uttarakhand.