The Delhi High Court on Thursday clarified that its order prohibiting felling of trees was restricted to the redevelopment of seven south Delhi colonies and would not affect any other project in the national capital.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao gave the order after applications were filed by the Delhi government, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), seeking to know whether the July 4 direction applied to the entire national capital or just the seven colonies.
They contended that several projects were held up as the forest department was not giving permission to fell trees due to the order.
The high court said since the petitions were regarding the redevelopment work in the seven colonies, its orders would be restricted to that project alone and if anyone was aggrieved by any other work, resulting in felling of trees, a plea can be moved in the National Green Tribunal.
It also said some of the projects, which were affected by its order, were also being monitored by the Supreme Court and, therefore, orders of the high court cannot interfere with matters under the supervision of the apex court.
"We are allowing the applications. We will not be party to interference with several projects of national interest," the high court said.
The PILs have challenged the terms of reference (ToR) and the environmental clearances granted to the housing projects at the seven colonies -- Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Kasturba Nagar, Mohammadpur and Srinivaspuri -- claiming that it would result in the felling of around 16,500 trees.
The bench had on August 30 directed that status quo be maintained till the Centre reconsiders the environment clearances given to the projects in six of them, after the court was told that the clearance was granted on the basis of an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report that had "copy-pasted" its contents from another project report in Tamil Nadu.
The court had also declined the interim plea moved by the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) seeking permission to continue with its work at Nauroji Nagar, where a commercial hub, including a World Trade Centre, has been planned.
The bench made it clear it was not just looking at the cutting of the trees, but also how clearances were granted for the redevelopment work in the six colonies of Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagaraja Nagar, Kasturba Nagar, Mohammadpur and Srinivaspuri.
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