‘Painful’: Delhi HC Voices Concern Over Tree Cutting in Southern Ridge

Southern Ridge

The Delhi High Court expressed its displeasure regarding the tree cutting in the Southern Ridge area for the construction of a road near the South Asian University. The court suggested that if authorities intend to transform the capital into a desert-like area, they should officially state so in an affidavit.

Justice Jasmeet Singh termed the situation “painful” and expressed regret for the lack of compliance with judicial orders concerning Ridge conservation. He emphasized his disappointment, stating that he could only sympathize with the affected individuals.

The court was addressing a case concerning permissions granted by tree officers for tree felling without providing speaking orders. Last year, it had decreed that no tree felling permissions would be granted in Delhi.

During the hearing, advocate Aditya N Prasad, representing the petitioner, pointed out that numerous trees had been cut down following a notification issued by the Delhi government permitting the removal of 422 trees for the construction of an approach road to the South Asian University.

The court reprimanded the deputy conservator of forest (DCF), present virtually at the hearing, for being unaware of the tree felling when the matter was previously discussed. Justice Singh criticized the lack of awareness and expressed frustration at the seeming disregard for the people of Delhi.

The DCF informed the court that the forest department hadn’t granted permission for tree felling in this instance. The Delhi government’s counsel explained that the law permits the government to exempt certain areas from the requirements of prior permission for tree felling, which was the basis of the notification.

While the court was informed that the tree cutting was carried out by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the authority’s counsel stated that a plea seeking approval from the Supreme Court is pending and requested time to seek instructions.

The court warned the DCF that it would consider shutting down his office due to the apparent lack of enforcement mechanisms for tree protection laws. Justice Singh criticized the ineffectiveness and held the authorities accountable for the difficulties faced by the people of Delhi.

The matter is scheduled to be heard again next week.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte