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"No Other Way To Mitigate Ecological & Environmental Degradation In City": High Court Stays Felling Of Trees In Delhi As An Interim Measure

Nupur Thapliyal
19 May 2022 10:45 AM GMT
No Other Way To Mitigate Ecological & Environmental Degradation In City: High Court Stays Felling Of Trees In Delhi As An Interim Measure
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As an interim measure, the Delhi High Court on Thursday stayed further felling of trees in the city observing that there is no other way to mitigate the ecological and environmental degradation.

Justice Najmi Waziri, who was hearing a contempt plea concerning felling of trees, stayed the said exercise by the authorities till June 2, the next date of hearing.

Noting that ex-facie, it was evident that the large scale denudation of fully grown trees only worsens the ecological balance in the city, the Court ordered thus:

"It would therefore be in the fitness of things and in the public interest as well as for the sake of environment of present as well as future generations that tree felling in Delhi is not permitted till the next date so as to ensure that felling is done only when it is fully assured by the applicant that the trees would atleast be transplanted."

The Court perused the status report filed by the Deputy Conservator of Forest, Central which showed that 2329 trees were permitted to be cut in the year 2021 in Central Forest Division.

Furthermore, the Court also noted that on computation, the number of trees which were permitted to be cut in the past three years i.e, 2019, 2020 and 2021 in the city came to a total of 27 trees per day i.e. 1.3 trees every hour.

The Court also noted that there was nothing in the status report to show the age of the trees when they were allowed to be cut.

"The affidavit is silent in this regard. Let detailed affidavit be filed," the Court ordered.

It said "Ex facie, it is evident that the large scale denudation of fully grown trees is only worsens the ecological balance in the city. The air pollution needs to be mitigated on an urgent basis and trees are a great source of mitigation in this regard."

Furthermore, the Court also noted that the status report failed to disclose that as to whether the 16,456 trees allegedly transplanted had actually survived. It also noted that there was no mention of compensatory plantation which was to be undertaken under the policy i.e. 10 trees planted for each felling tree.

Therefore, while staying the exercise of felling of trees till the next date of hearing, the Court said:

"Surely there is no other way to mitigate the very ecological and environmental degradation in the city."

At the outset, the Court also directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to ensure that a prominent link is created in public domain for persons who may wish to intimate the Tree Officer or Forest Department of the Delhi Government apropos any victimization or felling of trees.

It added that sufficient facility must also be made available for uploading photographs and other details as may be necessary to support the intimation by such persons.

"Affidavit of compliance be filed before the next date of hearing," the Court ordered further.

Accordingly, the matter will now be heard on June 2.

Earlier, the Court had observed observed that trees hold out as welcome and assuring living entities of hope, sanity, environmental redemption and even companionship and that they must not be allowed to be cut needlessly or wantonly.

Trees Only Hope Of Environmental Redemption In Commercialized Cities, Must Not Be Cut Needlessly: Delhi High Court

The Court had also said that it will take decades for the compensatory forests to be of any reckonable benefit.

Expressing it's concern on the issue, the Court had also added that the responsibility of protecting and nurturing the solitary tree is far greater upon the Tree Officer and the authorities concerned.

Advocate Aditya N Prasad appeared for the petitioner.

Case Title: NEERAJ SHARMA v. VINAY SHEEL SAXENA & ORS.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 473

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