The south Delhi redevelopment plan has on Saturday triggered a blame game between the Centre and AAP yet again.
While Union minister Harsh Vardhan claimed that the AAP government was responsible for granting the permission to fell trees in non-forest areas, the AAP claimed that the clearance for the same was issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest in November 2017.
Union Environment and Forest minister Harsh Vardhan said the area where the trees were to be felled was a “non-forest area” and the permission was given by the Delhi government.
“For the non-forest areas, whatever local permissions are to be given, are given by the Delhi government. It is directly under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government and not governed by us,” Vardhan said.
Counter charging the union minister's statement, AAP said the permission for the felling of trees was granted by Vardhan’s ministry.
“IMPORTANT - The file about “Redevelopment Project” says Environment Clearance for the project has been approved by MoEF & CC, GOI (Minister- Dr Harshvardhan ) vide letter dt 27.11.2017 @drharshvardhan ji, Did ur Department give Environment clearance to this project (sic)??.” AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj tweeted.
Bharadwaj also claimed that the Lieutenant Governor was the competent authority for issuing permission for felling trees at a large scale.
Bharadwaj said for the felling of a maximum of 10 trees, the deputy conservator of forest had to issue the permission, for a maximum of 20 trees, the conservator of forest had to issue the permission and the environment secretary of the Delhi government could permit the felling of trees in an area of less than a hectare.
“Harsh Vardhan has chosen his words very carefully, but he refuses to say that the LG is the competent local authority for giving the necessary permission in this case,” Bhardwaj told PTI.
The AAP dispensation is at loggerheads with LG Anil Baijal over a host of administrative and policy matters. Baijal has been accused by the ruling party of working at the behest of the Centre to paralyse the city government.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had alleged that around 17,000 trees will be felled for the redevelopment plan.
Bharadwaj had on Friday accused the Centre of failing to address environmental safety concerns in its redevelopment plan.
“As per our information, no environmental assessment has been carried out. The Delhi government has also not been consulted as to how the transport, water and sewer requirements will be met under the redevelopment plan,” Bharadwaj had said.
The AAP leader added that a protest would be held near Sarojini Nagar against the felling of trees on Sunday evening.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs had earlier said 14,031 of the existing 21,040 trees would be felled for the redevelopment of seven south Delhi colonies—Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, Mohammadpur, Sriniwaspuri, Kasturba Nagar and Thyagaraj Nagar.
The Centre, however, has claimed that the redevelopment would lead to an “increase in the green area coverage by about three times...and the compensatory plantation of trees will be done in the ratio of 1:10, thereby resulting in an enhanced tree-coverage area”.
“The re-development of the seven colonies is being done with complete adherence to environmental sustainability and green building concepts and special care and attention is being given towards retaining the maximum number of the existing trees,” it had said.
(With inputs from agencies)