Trees Won’t Be Cut For Redevelopment Of Delhi Colonies: Housing Minister

New Delhi: 

No trees would be cut in the process of redevelopment of seven colonies in South Delhi, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday, as he also assured that the national capital’s green cover would not be “damaged” and steps would be taken to enhance it.

The housing and urban affairs minister said the agencies — the NBCC and the CPWD — entrusted to executing the redevelopment project have been asked to rework and redesign the plans to avoid cutting of trees.

However, some trees may be transplanted at some other location and the NBCC has floated an Expression of Interest for the acquisition of tree re-location/transplantation equipment and for engaging services of trained professional entities in this respect, an official release said.

“I have always maintained that the green cover in Delhi will not be damaged & steps will be taken to enhance it even further. As stated earlier, no trees will henceforth be cut in the process of redevelopment of Delhi colonies,” Mr Puri said in a tweet.

His comment came after he held a meeting on the proposed cutting of trees with Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, DDA vice chairman Udai Pratap Singh, NBCC Chairman Anoop Kumar Mittal, CPWD Director General Abhai Sinha and Housing and Urban Affairs secretary DS Mishra, among others.

“I chaired a meeting of all stakeholders where NBCC/CPWD have been asked to rework and redesign the plans. We will also go ahead with compensatory plan of planting 1 million trees within the next 3 months. Citizen groups will be invited to suggest locations for transplantation,” he said in another tweet.

Amid a blame game over environment nod for the project, Mr Puri said all the permissions were earlier granted by the Forest Department of the Delhi government on the recommendation of Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain.

“I have now asked agencies concerned (CPWD and NBCC) to rework plans. I hope the Delhi government will now follow this example in all future plans,” he added.

The government had announced that it would be cutting over 14,000 trees for building over 25,000 flats for government employees in seven colonies of south Delhi. The proposal attracted heavy criticism from  green activists, politicians and citizens.

Speaking to reporters on the issue, Housing and Urban Aaffairs secretary DS Mishra said, “Not a single tree will be cut for redevelopment of govt colonies in Delhi.”

During the meeting, a decision was taken to plant more than one million trees, ranging from 8-12 feet height, in different parts of Delhi with NBCC planting 25,000; CPWD 50,000; DDA 10 lakh, and DMRC planting 20,000, an official release said.

“The planting of trees will be completed in the next three months during the monsoon season and the trees will comprise fruit-bearing, flowering and other green trees,” it added.

Meanwhile, Mr Baijal has been advised to set up a Group of experts and concerned citizens to interact on environmental issues and for specific further actions to be taken in respect of these colonies, the release said.

NBCC is redeveloping Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, while the Central Public Works Department or CPWD is managing the other four colonies in Kasturba Nagar, Thyagraj Nagar, Srinivaspuri and Mohammadpur.

A major protest broke out against the decision to feel the trees, with locals and activists launching their own “Chipko Movement”, a forest conservation movement where people embraced trees to prevent them from being cut in Uttarakhand (then Uttar Pradesh) in the 1970s.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi also hit out at the BJP and the AAP over the proposed felling of trees in the national capital for the redevelopment project and called for fighting this “madness”.

The NBCC, on Wednesday said that it it has directed all its contractors not to cut trees in any of its redevelopment projects in South Delhi, in line with the undertaking it has given to the Delhi High Court.

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