New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a panel to investigate and establish facts about claims made in a petition that the Public Works Department (PWD) violated environmental norms during construction activities carried out at the official residence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and adjacent properties.
The petition filed with the NGT alleged that permanent and semi-permanent structures were erected, and more than 20 trees were felled during the development of 6, Flag Staff Road (the CM’s residence) and 45-47 Rajpur Road (properties adjacent to it).
Recognising the importance of adhering to environmental regulations regarding tree cutting and the necessity of maintaining green spaces in the congested and polluted city of Delhi, the bench led by Chairperson Justice A.K. Goel (retd) and also comprising judicial member Justice Sudhir Agarwal and expert member A. Senthil Vel, deemed it necessary to establish the truth by constituting a joint committee.
“In view of above averments and significance of requirement of compliance for cutting trees and providing a green belt as a condition for constructions in congested and polluted city of Delhi, we consider it necessary to ascertain the factual position by constituting a joint Committee comprising Chief Secretary, Delhi, Principal Secretary, Environment & Forest, Delhi, nominee of the Delhi Urban Art Commission and District Magistrate of the area (District Magistrate, North),” the bench said in its order.
“Meeting of the Committee may be held within one week and the report may be furnished within three weeks from today. The Committee will be free to interact with any other Department or Authority and undertake a visit to the site. It may meet online or offline as may be found viable. If any violations are found, the Committee may take remedial action in coordination with the concerned statutory authorities, in accordance with law,” it directed.
The bench listed the matter for further consideration on May 31.
According to the petition, Section 12 of the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) Act, 1973 provides that without approval of the DUAC, approval to development proposals could not be granted by the Municipal Corporation concerned.
“Thus, construction was raised illegally, ignoring the observations of the DUAC for increasing the green area which ipso facto is violation of Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 requiring valid approval for construction. Such violations are to the detriment of environment,” the petition read.
The petition alleged that the permissions for tree cutting were taken by manipulation and circumvention of the NGT order dated February 10, 2009.
“Instead of disclosing that 28 trees were to be cut in which permission of higher authority was required, permissions were taken in installments of less than 10 trees,” the petition added.