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SC summons DG CPWD, DDA VC over tree felling in Delhi’s Ridge area, orders status quo

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NEW DELHI, May 9: The Supreme Court on Thursday summoned the director general of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and DDA vice-chairperson on a contempt petition against government officials for felling of trees in Delhi’s Ridge area in violation of its orders.

A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan ordered the two authorities to maintain status quo in the area and issued notices to them and the director general of forest and the principal chief conservator of forest.

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“If we are satisfied, we will direct them to replant the trees and restore the area,” the bench said.

The top court was hearing a contempt plea contending that the ridge is the only forested place left in the national capital, and a large number of trees have been felled there by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to construct an approach road between Chhattarpur Road and SAARC University near Maidan Garhi.

“We direct that the respondents shall remain personally present in court on the next date of hearing. We direct that the respondents shall not indulge in any further tree felling and status quo as of today shall be maintained in respect of the property subject matter of these contempt petitions,” the bench said.

The apex court had on March 4 refused permission to DDA to fell 1,051 trees, saying their application was very vague.

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It had said the DDA being an instrumentality of the State, it is its duty to first make an attempt to protect the environment by picking only those trees felling which is absolutely necessary.

“They must apply their mind whether alternatives can be examined to save the trees. Moreover, they want to construct the road through a forest. There is no permission obtained under the Forest Act.

“We direct the DDA to re-examine the proposal by employing the experts in the field. The exercise to be undertaken by the DDA is necessary for ensuring that while public work is carried out, minimum number of trees are required to be felled,” the apex court had said. (PTI)

 

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