Delhi lieutenant governor VK Saxena has shot off a letter to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, citing delays in various important projects like Central Vista, Metro Phase IV, Regional Rapid Transit System(RRTS), and Dwarka Expressway, due to pending tree-removal permission.
“Several major projects have been held up for an unreasonable period of time for want of felling or translocating trees under the Delhi Preservation of Trees permission Act, 1994 by the Department of Forest and Wildlife, GNCTD,” Saxena wrote.
The letter states that some of the important projects held up for this reason include the Redevelopment of General Pool Accommodation at Sriniwaspuri, Sarojini Nagar, Construction of Executive Enclave of Central Vista Project, Construction of Residential Quarters for Central Industrial Security Force, Corridors of Delhi MRTS Phase IV, Dwarka Expressway, EMU at Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station, etc. The L-G also listed the CPWD, Indian Railways, DMRC among the ones executing some of these projects.
According to the norms, the Delhi government’s forest department has to decide on tree-cutting/ translocation applications within 60 days, but in several cases, the pendency has exceeded more than one year, said the L-G’s office.
“It has been brought to my notice that a significant number of applications seeking permission for tree felling under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 are pending with the Forest department for varying periods of time beyond 60 days. In some cases the pendency is exceeding more than a year. Invariably in all such cases no reason has been communicated by the department for withholding the permission indefinitely in violation of the time period laid down for disposal of such applications under the Act,” the letter read.
Such “unwarranted delays” in the disposal of applications regarding permission for tree cutting or transplantation is resulting in waste of public funds due to time and cost overrun of the projects for which accountability needs to be fixed, Saxena wrote in the letter.
He also said that he had raised the issue several times during his meetings with the chief minister, yet the pendency continued to persist.
“While appreciating the need to balance development environmental concerns, I would once again in larger public interest request you to look into these pending applications and ensure their disposal in accordance with the statutory provisions,” he said in the letter.