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Contempt plea in Delhi HC against NBCC as cutting of trees continues

Contempt plea in Delhi HC against NBCC as cutting of trees continues
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A plea was filed in the Delhi High Court on Wednesday seeking contempt action against the National Buildings Construction Corporation  (NBCC) for allegedly violating its undertaking not to cut trees till July 4 for housing projects in New Delhi.

A plea was filed in the Delhi High Court on Wednesday seeking contempt action against the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) for allegedly violating its undertaking not to cut trees till July 4 for housing projects in New Delhi.

The contempt petition was mentioned before a vacation bench of justices Vinod Goel and Rekha Palli who said it would be heard on July 4 along with the main plea which has sought setting aside of the terms of reference (ToR) and Environmental Clearance (EC) granted to the project by the Environment Ministry, claiming it would lead to felling of over 16,500 trees.

The contempt plea was filed by environmentalist Vimlendu Jha alleging that there was deliberate and willful default of June 25 undertaking given to the court by the NBCC, tasked with redeveloping half a dozen south Delhi colonies.

It said that as per the June 25 order, the alleged contemnor (NBCC CMD) had undertaken not to cut trees in areas concerned till July 4 but yesterday, Jha noticed that the officials and workers of NBCC were felling trees in Netaji Nagar in south Delhi.

The plea said that a police complaint has also been filed in this regard at Sarojini Nagar Police Station and sought contempt action against authorities. It also said when the police refused to lodge an FIR in this regard, the Delhi environment minister intervened and directed necessary action, including registration of FIR, against defaulters.

The high court had on June 25 asked how could the national capital afford the felling of over 16,500 trees for a housing project.Taking note of the views expressed by the court which appeared inclined to order an interim stay of the tree chopping process, the NBCC had agreed not to cut any tree till July 4.

The NBCC had made the statement after the bench had asked,"Can Delhi today afford cutting down of so many trees for a housing complex? We could understand if it was a road-widening work which is inevitable." The court was hearing a PIL by orthopaedic surgeon Dr Kaushal Kant Mishra against felling of trees for housing projects in six south Delhi colonies -- Sarojini Nagar, Naoroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Mohammadpur and Kasturba Nagar.

A similar issue would be heard by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on July 2.

The petition has claimed that planting of saplings in another location as compensatory afforestation would not reduce the burden which would be put on the environment due to the large-scale felling of trees.

It has claimed that saplings would be a "poor substitute" for the fully grown trees that would be felled for the housing projects.

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