The Supreme Court has reverted the plea back to the Delhi High Court seeking a stay on flyover construction at Dwarka, in Delhi, involving rapid chopping of trees. The Supreme Court reverted the plea as the petitioner did not approach the two-judge bench of the High Court before moving the Apex Court.
Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan argued that the matter is serious and trees are being chopped day and night. However, the Bench of Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Hima Kohli observed that since the stay on construction of flyover was sought before the single bench wherein the plea was dismissed, the petitioner without approaching the Divisional Bench (Two-Judges Bench) of the Delhi High Court approached the Supreme Court directly.
Earlier, the Supreme Court issued notice on this petition seeking directions to stay construction of a flyover over a residential road (DDA Road No 226) in Sectors 22 and 23 in Dwarka, Delhi claiming to be an upcoming National Highway. The plea sought a direction to restrain the NHAI from carrying out any construction, till it produces the statutory approvals.
The plea of the petitioner was, by one notification, the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways of the Union government had issued a notification of new highway. As a consequence, another notification stands attracted with regards to the entry of schedule, which inter alia speaks of new National Highways. The feasibility report also clearly indicates that the project in question was a green Field project. In the earlier order of High Court, there was a specific direction that no removal of trees shall take place. Though the permission lapsed, the HC declined to grant interim relief. Following the submissions, the Court issued notice.
The petitioners had approached the High Court against the said construction. On December 18, 2020, the High Court had issued notice to NHAI and the Delhi Government and sought their responses. The plea also alleged that NHAI has not applied for approval to cut/remove trees from road no 226, Sector 22 and 23 Dwarka, where the construction was being carried out by it and the respondent no 7 ‘J Kumar Infra Projects Limited’.
The Delhi High Court had on December 18, 2020, directed the NHAI and the J Kumar Infra Projects Limited, not to remove/cut trees in the area in question without prior approval from the competent authority under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994.
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On July 30, 2021, the High Court had also rejected the application filed by the petitioner ‘Rao CGHS Ltd (New Millenium CGHS) & Ors’ with regards to the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, alleging that the work sought to be undertaken by the NHAI would also require environmental Clearance as the proposed highway is a new National Highway. The High Court noted, “Needless to say, it will be open for the respondent no 1 (NHAI) to proceed with the construction by following the directions already issued by this Court in its earlier orders.”
The petitioner, Rao CGHS Ltd (New Millenium CGHS), is a co-operative group housing societies (CGHS) and the residents of Sector 22 & 23 of Dwarka. Around 50 residential apartment societies and 12 schools adjoin the said DDA Road no 226.