NGT asks South Corpn to shell out Rs 50K for flouting tree guidelines

The National Green Tribunal on Thursday imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on South Delhi Municipal Corporation for “flouting” its orders on deconcretisation of trees.

A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the SDMC to pay the amount for not taking care while deconcretising trees in Chittaranjan Park area here where two trees fell after their roots were completely exposed due to concrete removal work.

The tribunal said all the authorities had been warned time and again by it that they should be careful while using machinery to remove concrete from tree roots, despite which its directions have been “violated” by the corporation.

“Authorities were clearly warned that heavy machinery for deconcretisation were to be used carefully. This direction has been violated by the SDMC with impunity, to say the least. We have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that SDMC has failed to discharge its statutory function in accordance with law and has flouted the orders of the tribunal,” the Bench said.

“In view of the above, we find this to be a fit case for action extending to imposition of punishment of civil imprisonment for violating the order of the tribunal. However, we impose cost of an amount of Rs 50,000 to be paid by SDMC at the first instance for causing damage to the trees and the environment,” the Bench added.

It was hearing a contempt plea alleging violation of the tribunal’s orders.

The Bench said the amount be first paid by the SDMC which can then be recovered from salaries of the officials who were responsible for deconcretisation work in CR Park. The NGT also directed the corporation to “do compensatory afforestation by planting 20 trees in the ratio of 1:10 for each fallen tree”.

SDMC’s oral plea against the order was rejected by the Bench which said, “Some message has to go. This order will remain.”

It also rejected as “incorrect” SDMC’s contention that the two trees had fallen due to heavy rains and thunderstorms and not due to deconcretisation.

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