Thursday, February 2, 2023

Delhi High Court: Cannot afford loss of trees

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The Delhi High Court talking about the environmental concern  said that the capital cannot state afford to lose three trees every hour and asked for a response from the forest department.

The petitioner was represented by Advocate Aditya N Prasad who said that data collected indicated how every hour trees are getting cut, giving it a term tree victimization.

Advocate Prasad further said that  that if other data, such as the number of trees cut illegally or under forest clearance, was obtained, the figure would be much higher.

As per the official data, a total of 47,474 trees were a chopped or at times transplanted between 2019 and 2021 to make way for various official projects or constructions in the national capital after getting exemptions under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act (DPTA), 1994.

“These figures are only for the trees which were allowed to be felled under Section 29 of the DPTA, which allowed the government to exempt any area or species of trees from all or any of the Act’s provisions in the public interest”, Prasad stated.

The court said that the illegal tree felling, trees which were cut as part of  forest clearance, unnoticed felling of trees, and those which came under storm have not accounted for in the affidavit are taken into account, else the the figures could have been twice or sometimes thrice of the times the current figure.

An affidavit should be filed by forest department as ordered by court for the missing data on trees as well as respond to the submission about three trees being cut down every hour in Delhi with official permission.

The Court also expressed concerns on the issue of transplantation of trees to certain areas in the national capital, emphasizing the need for the government departments to do their work diligently, “This city is not beholden to you”, the court stated.

The court also said that the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Delhi should investigate the situation and find a suitable solution and requested that police officers should be made more responsible .

 The court this year held some Delhi Police officials and some PWD officials guilty of contempt of court for violation of judicial orders concerning the preservation and protection of trees.

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