New Delhi: The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has refuted before the National Green Tribunal the allegation of "avoidable felling of 700 trees" for construction of its line from Mundka in Delhi to City Park in Bahadurgarh, Haryana as part of phase III.
"DMRC has taken action following the due procedure of law and also to meet the project target date strictly as per the tree cutting permission granted by the forest department," DMRC said in its reply to a petition filed before the NGT against felling of trees.
In its reply filed before a bench headed by Justice P Jyothimani, DMRC said "the Department of Forests and Wildlife had granted it the permission to fell trees in 2013 and the work is being executed as per the sanction."
It also submitted that the Ministry of Urban Development had on September 11, 2012,conveyed sanction of the President to extend existing Inderlok-Mundka corridor upto Bahadurgarh which has a length of 11.182 kms and is scheduled to be completed by March 31, 2016.
DMRC said it had carried out detailed environmental impact assessment study along the alignment of Mundka-Bahadurgarh metro corridor on the NH-10 as per which 700 trees are required to be removed between Mundka and Tikri border.
"The flora of the area affected in the project was taken into consideration and provision for compensatory afforestation of 10 trees against each affected tree was kept in the report of EIA study," it said in its reply.
The forest department has sought time to file its reply.
The petition, filed by a resident Vikas, alleged that "Felling of trees continues on the National Highway 10 between Mundka and Tikri Border as part of DMRC?s phase III expansion. The extension of this line runs into 11.18 Km; 6 km falls in Delhi and the rest in Haryana. About 1,500 trees have already been felled.
"The rest 500 in Delhi can be saved by shifting the project from the central verge to footpaths, where there are no trees.
"This can be done by readjusting the alignment of the 6-km part of the project where these trees are located. This deviation is very minor and feasible," his counsel Dipesh Kumar had said.
"The trees in the 2-km stretch of this area have already been cut down and the petition relates to a 4-km area," the petition claims.
The DMRC, however, denied all allegations and said "conservation of environment is one of the most priority areas of DMRC in both of its construction and operation activities".
"Delhi Metro has been certified by the United Nations as the first Metro rail and rail based system in the world to get carbon credits for reducing Green House Gas Emission as it helped in reducing pollution levels in the city by 6.3 lakh tons every year thereby helping in reducing global warming.
"It is, therefore, taking all care and precaution to maintain the environment," it said.
In its reply, DMRC said it exercised optimisation of station structures and saved 200 trees and the requirement of removing 700 trees was reduced to 498 and it has deposited Rs 1.61 crores with the Forest Department towards raising compensatory plantation of 4,980 treesfor the 498 plants affected by the project.