Delhi Metro Phase 4 Project: DMRC would have to get forest clearance for cutting of trees, says SC

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November 12, 2021 4:41 PM

According to Advocate A D N Rao, Delhi Metro gives an undertaking that let the court decide whether the area of 5.33 kilometres is forest or non-forest and if the SC finds it to be a forest area then forest clearance, compensatory afforestation as well as money payment would be needed.

Delhi Metro, DMRCJustice L Nageswara Rao-headed bench said it cannot stall the development but between development and environment, there has to be a balance.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court said it would not accept the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) submission, that all trees are not forests. The top court said under the Forest Conservation Act, Delhi Metro would have to get forest clearance for the felling of trees for its phase IV project. Justice L Nageswara Rao-headed bench said it cannot stall the development but between development and environment, there has to be a balance. According to a PTI report, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on the PSU’s behalf, said that the report of the CEC says it is not Forest land. According to Advocate A D N Rao, Delhi Metro gives an undertaking that let the court decide whether the area of 5.33 kilometres is forest or non-forest and if the SC finds it to be a forest area then forest clearance, compensatory afforestation as well as money payment would be needed. According to the report, senior advocate Rajiv Dutta, appearing for intervenors Dr P C Prasad as well as advocate Aditya N Prasad, submitted that the Delhi High Court had asked them to approach the CEC with their plea seeking directions to the authorities, including Delhi Metro, to change the project’s nature from overground to the underground in order to preserve and improve the quality of air as well as to ensure that least number of trees are chopped in a city like Delhi where the air is oversaturated with pollutants already. Dutta mentioned that the CEC did not deal with the objections that were raised by his clients as well as the Delhi government. According to him, since trees that are to be cut for the Delhi Metro corridor’s construction between Aerocity and Tughlaqabad fall in the eco-sensitive Ridge area and forest clearance is compulsory. The Delhi government’s counsel said the metro corporation has to comply with the law and also, it has to take forest clearance for the project. Earlier, the Supreme Court had agreed to consider listing for an urgent hearing the plea of the DMRC alleging that its ongoing construction activity has been halted due to lack of requisite permission for felling trees. Mehta had told the apex court that around 3,000 workers are sitting idle. Besides, Rs 3.4 crore loss is being incurred by Delhi Metro per day because no development work is being carried out due to the lack of permission. According to the law officer, the DMRC has filed an interim application in a pending PIL, titled as T N Godavarman versus UOI, about issues including preservation of the forest. Trees are needed to be cut in the national capital for Delhi Metro’s phase IV expansion plan. Over 10,000 trees have been identified by the DMRC for cutting for the expansion work of the Maujpur-Majlis Park, Janakpuri-RK Ashram, and Aerocity-Tughlaqabad corridors and has not got requisite permission for cutting them.

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