The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday accused Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan of misguiding people over the redevelopment plan, claiming that his ministry had given environment clearance to the project.
“Harsh Vardhan has misguided the people of Delhi as he said that the Central government has nothing to do with cutting of trees. It was his ministry that approved the environmental impact assessment and notified environment clearance to the project,” AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said.
Bhardwaj claimed that the environmental impact assessment for the project was merely theoretical, adding no public hearing was held before the project.
“It is theory only and no assessment. It pays no attention to ground water level and pollution level in areas covered under the project. According to papers the public hearing was held on January 1, 1900 which is impossible. It seems ghosts attended it 118 years ago,” the AAP leader said.
Bhardwaj claimed that people of the affected colonies were caught unaware about the large number of felling of trees and alleged that the project was aimed at developing commercial properties instead of providing residential accommodation.
“The brochure of the project details how it will be a commercial property. It states that there will be a World Trade Centre, conference facilities and prime marketing spaces under it,” Bhardwaj said.
The AAP and BJP had been in loggerheads over the south Delhi redevelopment project, while locals, activists and environmentalists launched a “Chipko Movement” by hugging trees, taking inspiration from the Chipko movement in which 363 locals sacrificed their lives in a bid to save their jungles.
The Delhi High Court on June 25 questioned the move of felling over 16,500 trees for the project.
Taking note of the views expressed by the court which appeared inclined to order an interim stay of the tree chopping process, the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), tasked with redeveloping half a dozen south Delhi colonies, agreed not to cut any tree till July 4 when the case will come up again for hearing by the court.
(With inputs from agencies)