Union housing and urban affairs minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, on June 28, 2018, said that the agencies (NBCC and the CPWD) entrusted to executing the redevelopment of seven colonies in south Delhi, 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 and 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,” Puri said in a tweet. Puri’s comment came after he held a meeting on the proposed cutting of trees with Delhi LG Anil Baijal, DDA vice-chairman Udai Pratap Singh, NBCC CMD Anoop Kumar Mittal, CPWD DG Abhai Sinha and HUA 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 one million trees within the next three months. Citizen’s groups will be invited, to suggest locations for transplantation,” he said in another tweet.
Amid a blame game over the environment nod for the project, Puri said all the permissions were earlier granted by the Forest Department of the Delhi government, on the recommendation of Delhi’s environment minister, Imran Hussain. “I have now asked the 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, HUA secretary DS Mishra said, “Not a single tree will be cut for redevelopment of government colonies in Delhi.” During the meeting, a decision was taken to plant more than one million trees, ranging from eight to 12 ft height, in different parts of Delhi, with NBCC planting 25,000, CPWD – 50,000, DDA – 10 lakh and DMRC – 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, Baijal has been advised to set up a group of experts/concerned citizens, to interact on environmental issues and for specific further actions to be taken with respect to these colonies, the release said. NBCC is redeveloping Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar and Nauroji Nagar, while the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) is managing the other four colonies in Kasturba Nagar, Thyagraj Nagar, Srinivaspuri and Mohammadpur.
A major protest broke out against the decision to fell the trees, with locals and activists launching their own ‘Chipko Movement’, a forest conservation movement where people embrace trees, to prevent them from being cut. 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 June 27, 2018, said, it had 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.