Elevated project: NGT concerned over PWD`s silence on trees

The bench directed the Chief Engineer of PWD to file a personal affidavit giving complete details of the trees.

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal Wednesday expressed concern over a "one track mind" report filed by PWD regarding an elevated road project on Outer Ring Road in West Delhi and directed the agency to inform how it intends to save the trees in the area.

"There is not a single word in the report regarding saving of trees. That is what concerns us. This is a one track mind report. The engineer concerned is only concerned about the project.

"We needed to know how many trees can be saved, how many are going to be felled. We also wanted to know about the compensatory afforestation to be taken up. This report is silent on all these issues," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar observed after going through the Public Works Department`s (PWD) report.

The bench directed the Chief Engineer of PWD to file a personal affidavit giving complete details of the trees - currently 1485 - that require to be felled, that will be transplanted at the end of the extended or widened road and those that will be transplanted to another site.

The bench also asked the PWD to try and transplant the trees, that it intends to cut, five to 10 feet back from their current location on the roadside.

The tribunal also refused to go through the "technical map" of the project area that was submitted by the PWD and directed it to place before the bench a drawing of the project site, on the next date of hearing - September 19.

The bench, meanwhile, allowed the development work on the central verge of the road to continue and said that the PWD would be entitled to transplant or remove or fell the 75-odd trees on the road side if they are coming in the way of the construction.

The bench directed the Conservator of Forests of Delhi government and the PWD to jointly inspect the site to decide whether transplantation or removal of the 75 trees is necessary for continuing the work.

The tribunal in its order also directed that if it is not possible to transplant the trees that would be removed or felled, then reforestation in the ratio of 1:20 be done by the PWD.

The PWD was directed to give, in its affidavit, complete details with pictures of the sites, where reforestation will be done.

Additionally, the Conservator of Forests was directed to place on record an Environment Impact Assessment report in relation to the project.

During the proceedings, petitioner Aditya Prasad contended that the report filed by the PWD is in fact its reply and not the findings of the committee appointed by the tribunal.

Prasad submitted that the NGT appointed committee in its report had said that alignment of the road requires certain modifications as well as width of the ground road requires to be reduced to protect the trees.

The committee`s report had also said that the PWD should reexamine its layout of the existing road, service lanes, footpaths, green belts and bus bays so that maximum possible trees can be saved, he said.

Prasad, while admitting he has no problem with the elevated project which is coming up on the central verge of the road, also contended there is no need for widening the ground road.

This contention is contrary to the PWD`s report which states that widening of the road is necessary to prevent loss of human life.