Amidst large scale protests, the controversial redevelopment project in South Delhi which required chopping off at least 14,000 trees, was put on hold till July 4, by the High Court today.
Delhi High Court Order
The central government had ordered to fell 14,000 trees in seven colonies of South Delhi to make way for government officers’ houses and commercial complex buildings. The judge asked the government-run National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), which is overseeing the project, to justify its move of cutting so many trees.
NDTV reported that the petitioner, K K Mishra has said, “More than 20,000 trees will be cut in the main south Delhi area. A CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) report states there is a deficit of nine lakh trees in Delhi. I hope the court will put a stay on the order”.
Applauding the High Court’s move of staying the order, AAP spokesman Saurabh Bharadwaj took to Twitter and said:
AAP welcomes the decision of Hon'ble HC to stay any further felling of trees in Central Govt's VIP housing project at Delhi.
It was a day light mass murder to fell 17000 trees.
Thanks Delhi for standing up.#DelhiChipkoAndolan
— Saurabh Bharadwaj (@Saurabh_MLAgk) June 25, 2018
Even though the government, while complying with the guidelines of the forest department assured that it would plant ten saplings for every grown tree which is cut, environmentalists claim that saplings cannot replace full grown trees.
According to NDTV Hardeep Singh Puri, the union minister of state for housing and urban development said, “Till the time I am a minister no tree will be cut and for every tree that is cut we will plant 10 trees. Green cover will go up by three times after re-development of seven colonies in South Delhi. Young activists are too fast to blame.” Additionally, his comment which seeks to justify the centre’s move was met with harsh criticisms on Twitter as well.
Chipko-Movement Like Protest
This contentious issue snowballed into a mass protest in which residents of Sarojini Nagar, one of the colonies chosen for the project, protested by hugging trees. Reminiscing India of the 1970’s Chipko movement in Uttarakhand, around 1500 residents not only hugged trees but also tied green ribbons around the trees symbolising rakhis and shouted slogans, reported Hindustan Times.
This movement was supported by environmentalists, citizen activists, members of the AAP while state environment and forest minister Imran Hussain and AAP spokesman Saurabh Bharadwaj participated in the protest.
For the South Delhi redevelopment project, over 3,000 trees have already been cut in parts of the city like Nauroji Nagar and Netaji Nagar.