The issue gathered steam on Tuesday after Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri asked a critic to ‘be careful of his tone’ while addressing him on Twitter, drawing flak from the AAP.
Twitter user Gajendra asked the Union housing and urban affairs minister why the project could not be located in areas such as Dwarka that had space for construction without the need to cut trees.
Puri responded by saying that the user needed to mind his tone while talking to him, warning him not to be offensive. He added that though the trees would be razed, there would not be one tree less than now in the proposed areas.
AAP’s Greater Kailash’s MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj took on Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, asking him to shift the project to Delhi or Noida. Bhardwaj went on to question whether the environment department had given clearance to the supposed redevelopment project.
.@drharshvardhan ji, You are Environment Minister and Delhi MP. Please request ur Central Govt to not proceed with redevelopment of Central Govt Colonies.— Saurabh Bharadwaj (@Saurabh_MLAgk) 23 June 2018
You can have this project at Noida,Gurgaon or any place where trees need not be felled.
Speaking to CNN News18, Harsh Vardhan said the areas in question were non-forest areas and thus, no approvals were needed from the forest department. “All orders related to this are under the Delhi government’s jurisdiction. The Union government has no say in this,” he said.
However, AAP leader Ashish Khetan countered Harsh Vardhan’s statement, saying he was not aware of any such order given by the Delhi government. “Cannot reply on Harsh Vardhan’s word for it. I will have to check with the ministry before putting out a reply on this,” the former chairman of the Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) said.
AAP’s national spokesperson Raghav Chadha also joined the chorus, tweeting that the decision to raze 17,000 trees showed a complete “apathy and non-application of mind” and the project should instead be located in Noida or Gurgaon. “If thousands of people can come from these places to work in Delhi, so can babus,” Chadha tweeted.
Razing 17000 trees to make space for VIP accommodation shows complete apathy towards environment & non-application of mind on part of Central Government. Why can't they put up babus in Noida/Gurgaon? If thousands of people can come from these places to work in Delhi,so can babus.— Raghav Chadha (@raghav_chadha) 23 June 2018
The National Building Construction Corporation India Limited, a central public sector undertaking, said they planned to plant over 10 times the number of trees that would be cut in the process, the PTI reported.
Many leaders, including Bhardwaj, have called on Delhi residents for a re-enactment of the Chipko Movement. In a video posted on Twitter, the AAP spokesperson urged residents to come out against the felling and save the trees and air of Delhi.
Save Delhi Save Trees— Saurabh Bharadwaj (@Saurabh_MLAgk) 23 June 2018
24 June Sunday 5:00 PM
Near Sarojini Nagar Police Station pic.twitter.com/5akTYscykQ
A petition on Change.org to put an end to the proposed felling has gathered over 9,000 signatures.