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"Concretization Of Trees Is Worst Kind Of Human Rights Abuse, You Are Changing People's Neighbourhood": Delhi High Court Slams SDMC

Nupur Thapliyal
27 Nov 2021 4:47 AM GMT
Concretization Of Trees Is Worst Kind Of Human Rights Abuse, You Are Changing Peoples Neighbourhood: Delhi High Court Slams SDMC
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The Delhi High Court on Friday pulled up the South Delhi Municipal Corporation over the issue of concretization of trees in the national capital, observing that it amounts to worst kind of human rights abuse for the reason that it changes the whole environment of people. Justice Najmi Waziri was dealing with a plea highlighting the inaction of the authorities for preservation of trees in...

The Delhi High Court on Friday pulled up the South Delhi Municipal Corporation over the issue of concretization of trees in the national capital, observing that it amounts to worst kind of human rights abuse for the reason that it changes the whole environment of people.

Justice Najmi Waziri was dealing with a plea highlighting the inaction of the authorities for preservation of trees in city's Vasant Vihar area.

"You are changing the people's neighbourhood. They become alien in their own environment, that is the worst kind of human rights abuse. Constitutional rights don't exist on note of dust, it's a living document for us. Citizens will not be pushed back because the corporation is not working on it," the Court told Advocate Sanjeev Sabharwal appearing for SDMC.

The development came after the Court had sought response of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation and Delhi Police over concretization of hundreds of trees.

"Do you know the value of a fully grown tree? There was a report filed in the Supreme Court and from what I am told, value of a fully grown tree which has a 100 year life is 1 crore rupees. And that's only the monetary value. Imagine the value it has for citizens. I have said it repeatedly. A lady who has lived in a colony for 50 years, she used to get up and used to see a particular tree in front of her, it gets chopped off or it becomes ill because some contractor of MCD comes and just concretizes it up to the tree trunk, there is no water, there is no air, there is no nitrogen, it just dries up. And some 'aandhi' just comes down, that neighbourhood is not the same neighbourhood for that lady or her children," the Court added.

During the course of hearing, the Court asked Advocate Aditya N Prasad appearing for the petitioner about the situation on the site. Prasad, in response, apprised the Court thus:

"The work is going on intermittently because there are these gag orders and now there is a Supreme Court order stopping all construction and even if the civil work doesn't go on, the horticulture is doing whatever they can by removing wires, nails and spraying insecticides. The representatives of the one who has done the survey, she is constantly there. She has met the officers. We have given them a list of the trees as per the census report and they are cooperating. There is no doubt."

Perusing the status report and photographs filed by the SDMC, the Court expressed its displeasure at the concretization, remarking how the trees would survive.

"Everyday same position in every colony. How did your junior engineer allow the bills to go through, whoever did this job? If you want, we will very gladly order an enquiry," the Court added.

While the Court agreed that the corporation had worked on ground, however, it added that similar situation persists in every other colony in the city. At the outset, the Court also hinted towards personal appearance of the officers concerned on the next date of hearing.

"This is no more a joke. The symbiotic relationship is far too extensive. We can't do without it. We don't want only to concertize the city. You can't take care, you tell us. RWA will take care of it. I am confident any number of RWAs are ready to take it up," the Court said.

The Court also rapped the Delhi Police over parking of cars at the pavements as shown in the photographs on record. It said:

"Where is the affidavit of DCP? What does the order say? 'Make the pathway free of any and every obstacle'. Is the car not an obstacle, sir? Then what were you doing. You are in contempt today. Do you not understand simple things? This is simply just making statements here and there. Kya kiya hai abhi tak? I will discharge your vakalatnama now. Give me an answer which is worthy of making a submission in the court. Kya kiya hai tabse aap ne. You have done nothing, therefore you are in contempt. Do you understand that? You are officer of the government? Law officer? Is this the answer you want to give us that we will not comply with the court's orders."
"Is there no sense of urgency for citizens rights? Today is the Constitution day. I am appearing for so and so. For what? Kya kehne k liye aaye hai app. It is not for the court. Please respect the citizens. Their rights are first which is why I said there have to be there separate counsels as there will be conflict of interest. Aapko citizen dikhta hi nai hai."
"Look at the condition? Do you have no concern for your immediate neighbour, elderly gentleman who wants to go for a walk? How will he go for the walk? Seedhi chadhni mushkil hoti hain. Look at the footpath. Their lives are endangered. Look at this mushkil. Every portion of it has been just concretized."

Previously, the Court had observed that the constitutional guarantee of citizens' freedom of movement as enshrined in the Constitution should not be hemmed in by the lack of civic amenities.

"While freedom of movement is a constitutional guarantee, it should not be hemmed-in by the lack of requisite civic amenities. Citizens need to be empowered and facilitated in the enjoyment of their constitutional rights, for which provision of basic civic amenities is essential, like a safe and secure neighbourhood, tree-lined avenues and footpaths, where an endeavour of a leisurely stroll is actually a pleasurable exercise and not an obstacle-dodging, harrowing experience," the Court had observed.

(The report is based on the Court proceedings. Further details including directions will be updated later after Court order is uploaded.)

Case Title: BHAVREEN KANDHARI v. GYANESH BHARTI & ORS

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