Tree damage in CR Park: PWD officials found in contempt of court

The Delhi High Court has found the chief engineer and an executive engineer of Delhi’s public works department guilty of contempt of court in a case involving the chopping up of tree roots in Chittaranjan Park. Officers were ordered to remain present on April 7 for the sentencing.

“It was up to the PWD to ensure that such damage was avoided. Failing to do so, he was complicit in the damage to the trees. The PWD itself redid the sidewalks and created 6×6 radius manholes around 16 trees,” Judge Najmi Waziri said in an order.

Judge Waziri further said that “the imperative to protect the trees” can never be overlooked as the city has seen the worst period of air pollution in the past four to five years. “The generation of fresh oxygen by trees and their action as carbon sinks would always mitigate air pollution,” the bench observed.

He also noted that a section of road is dug by one agency and as soon as the work is normally completed by that agency, another digs the same path. “This cycle continues throughout the year, whether for the work of laying internet cables, power lines, water pipes, telephone cables, etc,” said the court.

On February 25, the court took note of the damage done to trees by government agencies while carrying out works on Bipin Chandra Pal Marg and nearby areas, and issued opinions to the CEO of BSES Rajdhani Power Limited, Engineer in – Head of the PWD, other officials of the Forestry Department and the SHO of the Chittaranjan Park Police Station in the contempt motion filed by the New Delhi Nature Society.

The Chief Engineer and Executive Engineer had not responded to the court’s opinion at the time the order was passed. “They are found in contempt of court for willfully disobeying the instructions of this court and the NGT,” the bench said.

Despite a court-ordered standstill on February 25, the court was told that construction work was continuing at the site. Works were underway on a road maintained by the PWD, and it was up to the department to ensure that the works were stopped, lawyer Aditya N Prasad, who is representing the petitioner, told the court.

The government also told the court that the tree officer, when inspecting the site, discovered that around 13 trees had been damaged during an exercise by the SDMC and 10 trees had been damaged by the PWD. . The court was further informed that there was also illegal concreting of the earth around the trees. A fine of Rs 40,000 and Rs 1 lakh had been imposed on SDMC and PWD, the forest department told the court.

“The ruthless and willful disregard of court instructions and a concerted effort to damage the ecology of the city is evident in the photographs,” he said, while noting that a perimeter wall of a community center is being laid by damaging 13 fully grown trees.

The court also ordered the Chief Secretary of Delhi to pass an order making it mandatory for all government agencies to seek permission from the tree officer before commencing any civil work, which is likely to be carried out at less than 2 meters. of any existing tree.

“As a request for police assistance is made by the Tree or a Ranger, the SHO concerned must delegate at least two police officers so that there is no threat to life and harm. physical integrity of said Arborist. The Delhi Police Commissioner will issue appropriate instructions in this regard,” the court added.

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