Friday, July 07, 2017

RTI: 1,700 trees to be felled for Pragati Maidan revamp

The Asian Age: New Delhi: Friday, July 07, 2017.
Two days after a few trees were stopped from being felled in South Delhi, an RTI query has revealed that Delhi’s forest department has granted permission to cut over 1,700 trees for redeveloping Pragati Maidan.
The forest officials said that this was the “barest minimum” they could do for the redevelopment project, as not much land was available.
According to the RTI reply, 1,713 trees have been identified for felling for the project and that the forest department has already given permission under Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994.
The trees are being cut to clear land for developing the planned “integrated exhibition-cum-convention-centre” at the complex.
The Rs 2,254 crore redevelopment project was approved by the Centre in January this year. Work has already started and several structures, such as the iconic Hall of Nations have already been demolished.
Environment activist Aditya N. Prasad, who had filed the RTI, said that no proper inspection was conducted by the department to ascertain the number of trees that are coming in the way or obstructing the project.
“They did not even conduct an environment impact assessment,” he added.
This comes just days after Delhi environment minister Imran Hussain stopped felling of 30 trees at Aurobindo Marg in South Delhi after residents and environment activists objected to such a felling for a road-widening project.
A senior forest official said that the department has already allotted land to Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for compensatory plantation of over 17,000 trees. According to the law, 10 saplings have to be planted for each tree cut.