SC issues contempt notice to DDA vice-chief over felling trees despite orders

Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta observed that the DDA had disregarded the court’s previous order to halt tree cutting.
Representative Image
Representative Image

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court issued a contempt notice to the vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Wednesday for the unauthorized felling of over 1,000 trees to build an approach road between Chattarpur Road and SAARC University near Maidan Garhi.

Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta observed that the DDA had disregarded the court’s previous order to halt tree cutting.

“Prima facie, we find that the DDA’s action of cutting trees for the road construction is in contempt of this court’s orders dated February 8 and March 4,” said the court. It has scheduled a hearing on the matter for May 8, directing the vice-chairman to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him.

The contempt notice stemmed from advocate K Parameshwar, acting as amicus curiae, informing the court that despite a prior order prohibiting tree felling, the DDA proceeded with the action. On March 4, the top court had denied DDA permission to cut 1,051 trees. “They must apply their mind to whether alternatives can be examined to save the trees. Moreover, they want to construct the road through a forest. No permission is obtained for it under the Forest Act,” the court said.

“We direct the DDA to re-examine the proposal by employing experts in the field. The exercise to be undertaken by the DDA is necessary for ensuring that public work is carried out with a minimum number of trees being felled,” the court said in its previous order.

The top court said DDA being an instrumentality of the state is duty-bound to make an attempt to protect the environment by felling only those trees that are absolutely mandatory.

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