A controversial project that requires the cutting of 17,000 trees in Delhi to make way for government officers’ houses and a commercial complex was put on hold by the High Court today. “Has the tree-cutting been approved by the green tribunal,” the court questioned as it put off the project till July 4, the next hearing.“We could understand if it was a road-widening work which is inevitable. You want to cut thousands of trees for housing. Can Delhi afford this?” the judge asked the government-run National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), which is overseeing the project.The court’s remarks followed the corporation’s statement that jurisdiction in environmental clearance to a central government project was with the National Green Tribunal. The NBCC also said it had deposited Rs. eight crore with the tree authority of the Delhi government for permission to cut trees.Petitioner KK Mishra, an orthopaedic surgeon, said that since the decision involved the tree authority, the court could here it. Mr Mishra, in his petition, asks the court to stop the central government project to cut thousands of trees for what it calls “redevelopment” of seven colonies in south Delhi.
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