SC Concerns Over Illegal Tree Felling in Delhi, Orders Investigation

Illegal Tree Felling

The Supreme Court has expressed concern over flagrant tree felling in Delhi and questioned whether the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) vice chairman acted on directives from the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi regarding illegal tree cutting in the ridge forest area.

A vacation bench comprising Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan remarked on the alarming nature of the tree cutting despite the knowledge that it contravenes court orders. The bench indicated its intention to conduct a thorough investigation into the actions of the DDA, which led to the destruction of numerous valuable trees and consequent environmental degradation.

“The Court cannot overlook such bold actions in the nation’s capital. If authorities fail in their statutory and constitutional duty to safeguard the environment, the Court must send a clear message,” the bench stated.

The Supreme Court was addressing a suo moto contempt case against DDA vice chairman Subhashish Panda for large-scale tree felling in defiance of court orders. After reviewing the Enquiry Committee’s report established by the DDA to investigate the tree felling, the Court noted email communications referring to a site visit by the LG on February 3, 2024.

“We direct the vice chairman to clarify whether there exists an official record of the LG’s February 3 site visit and provide details of what transpired during this visit,” the Court ordered. “The DDA must be transparent on this matter.”

Upon reviewing the vice chairman’s affidavit, the Court observed, “Blame has been shifted entirely onto officers, alleging they directed contractors to cut trees without court permission.” Notices were issued to concerned DDA officers, with responses expected by July 12.

The bench proposed issuing directives for a substantial tree plantation drive across the city and sought assistance from the DDA and Attorney General R Venkataramani on this matter. The Court scheduled the next hearing for June 26.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had instructed the DDA to halt all road construction activities and expressed dissatisfaction with the unauthorized tree cutting in the Delhi Ridge area. Additionally, the Court mandated planting 100 new trees for each tree felled by the DDA and issued a contempt notice to the DDA vice chairman for the felling of over 1,000 trees to construct an approach road.

Read More: Supreme CourtDelhi High CourtStates High CourtOther Courts, International

Recommended For You

About the Author: Nunnem Gangte