Bare deliberations before clearing housing projects
The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Centre to give details of its deliberations before grant of environment clearance EC for the redevelopment of seven south Delhi colonies at the cost of over 16,500 trees
Delhi HC fiat to centre
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Centre to give details of its deliberations before grant of environment clearance (EC) for the redevelopment of seven south Delhi colonies at the cost of over 16,500 trees.
Calling for the records related to grant of EC, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar directed authorities executing the project to ensure that there is no change in traffic and unit density of the areas in question till further orders.
The court asked for the "considerations and deliberations" carried out by the Environment Ministry before grant of EC, after an expert on development and environment said the clearance for the project area of over 600 acres was given in one sitting, which was not possible if there was application of mind.
The court had on the last date asked for the opinion of the expert, Gautam Mann, with regard to the project and its impact on the environment. He told the court on Thursday that the entire clearance needed a re-look on the basis of the precautionary principle.
Mann and another environment expert appointed by the court also said compensatory afforestation or transplantation was unviable and instead standing trees should be included in the redevelopment plan.
During the hearing, the bench termed as "worrying" the Delhi Development Authority's (DDA) move to increase floor area ratio on the basis of increasing population density without applying its mind to the services that would need to be provided.
The court observed that as a result of the project, there would be a huge impact on traffic density, air pollution, impact on public health and transportation.
The National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), which is executing the work along with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), said the project was sanctioned by the Union Cabinet that has considered the master plan of Delhi before giving a go-ahead to the redevelopment work.
To this the bench said:"If you are talking of master plan, then it is high time we have a green master plan for Delhi" and added that "we cannot compromise on environment no matter the cost".
The court also impleaded the Delhi government's Public Works Department (PWD) and Irrigation department, and the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). It asked them to give details, like date of construction, specifications and the population they were to cater to, of the roads and storm water drains in the project areas.
The bench made the authorities a party saying that development and redevelopment work in Delhi will have an immediate effect on traffic as well as flow of rainwater into storm water drains.
On the last date, the court had prohibited felling of trees in the national capital and on Thursday the Forest department said tree officers were not approving cutting of any tree anywhere in Delhi, even those which are dead or might pose a threat to life or property during Monsoon.
Clarifying its order, the bench said the prohibition on tree felling in Delhi will not apply to situations where such cutting is necessary for the reason a tree is dead or constitutes a danger to life or property.
The court was hearing several PILs which have challenged the terms of reference (ToR) and EC granted to the housing projects at Sarojini Nagar, Naoroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Mohammadpur, Kasturba Nagar and Srinivaspuri, claiming it would lead to felling of over 16,500 trees.