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Tree felling: SC comes down heavily upon DDA for not sharing info

A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan also directed the Delhi government and the civic agencies to convene a meeting which would discuss comprehensive measures to enhance the city's green cover.
Last Updated : 26 June 2024, 13:49 IST

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday came down heavily upon the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for not giving information regarding Delhi's Lieutenant Governor visit at the site where trees were cut in violation of court orders.

A bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan also directed the Delhi government and the civic agencies to convene a meeting which would discuss comprehensive measures to enhance the city's green cover. They said people are feeling the heat as tree cover is lost.

Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for DDA Vice Chairman, contended that the authority is trying to locate the records regarding the LG's visit. 

The bench said it does not appreciate the fact that the authority cannot even find a simple thing. The court asked if the vice chairman has inquired with the concerned department, called for reports or asked the officers, who were present in the meeting.

The bench said the email on record says that the LG had visited and the DDA should have looked into the matter. 

"You are only protecting the higher-ups and blaming the lower officers," the bench said. 

The DDA’s counsel said that the LG did not visit the site where trees were cut, but said that he had visited a different site.

The bench said that the DDA could not obtain information regarding the site visit of the LG on February 3, 2024.

As DDA’s counsel sought more time, the bench said, "We don't think that the request for time to find such simple information is bona fide."

The bench issued notice to an officer, who was present at the time of the LG's visit and directed him to file an affidavit as to what exactly transpired and if any directions were issued by LG. 

The bench told the DDA that the truth in the matter must come out.The court also said it expects the forest department and tree authority to keep a vigil on the activity of illegal damaging of trees in the national capital. 

"Considering the illegal and high-ended acts of the felling of trees, we issue notice to the government of Delhi, Forest and Environment Department, Tree Authority, MCD and DDA," the bench said.

The court also directed the secretary of the Forest Department to convene a meeting of all these officers in the presence of the expert committee appointed to discuss the comprehensive measures for enhancing the green cover of the national capital.

On Monday, the Supreme Court said that brazen acts of tree felling in the national capital cannot be brushed aside lightly and asked the DDA, whether the illegal cutting of trees in Delhi's ridge forest was carried on the direction issued by the LG of Delhi.

The apex court had made it categorical that it wanted a "clear" statement from DDA whether trees in the ridge area were cut on LG's orders without the court's permission. 

Earlier, the court had issued a notice of criminal contempt against DDA Vice-Chairman Subhasish Panda for allowing a large-scale felling of trees in the southern Ridge's Satbari area to construct a road from Chattarpur to South Asian University.

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Published 26 June 2024, 13:49 IST

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