The Delhi High Court Monday sought the stand of several officials of the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Delhi Police on a plea seeking contempt action for alleged damage to trees while carrying out construction activities on a road in the Rohini area.
Justice Najmi Waziri issued notice to the PWD Engineer-in-Chief, Executive Engineers, and the Secretary as well as Deputy Commissioner of Police, the Station House Officer concerned and the Tree Officer concerned on a contempt petition by New Delhi Nature Society which claimed that there is wilful disobedience of judicial orders on the preservation of trees in the case.
The court noted that the photographs given by the petitioner showed concrete being poured on the roots of a tree and sought the stand of the officials.
Advocate Aditya N Prasad, appearing for the petitioner, said while carrying out “deep trenching activity” and “streetscaping” on K N Katju Marg in Rohini, the authorities have damaged and continue to damage standing trees.
Advocate Shadan Farast, appearing for the Tree Officer concerned, said he agreed with the petitioner and the present situation was unacceptable. He informed that the Tree Officer has also imposed a fine on PWD.
“How long will you keep imposing costs? There are 3-4 (contempt) petitions pending…. Somehow there is something amiss,” the court asked.
Counsel for the petitioner said that the present instance is a “contempt of contempt” as it pertains to the violation of an order passed on another contempt case against certain PWD officials.
The lawyer said that there are judicial orders which have mandated leaving one metre kutcha space around trees with no construction activity on it and in January while dealing with the other contempt case, the court had asked the PWD to exercise due caution in all its ongoing civil works and future project in terms of these orders.
“The work (in the present case) involves deep trenching work within one metre radius from the trees, which is in violation of the aforesaid Judgement/Orders and the provisions of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 (DPTA),” the petition said.
“The damage to the roots of standing trees due to the continuation of the aforesaid activity at the aforesaid site is irretrievable and irreversible. That the Contemnors/Respondents cannot resile from following the Judgement/Orders. It is further submitted that the Contemnor/Respondent No. 1 (PWD official) has not complied with the Judgement/Orders despite being repeatedly informed of the violations,” it added.
The lawyer also claimed that the Delhi Police also failed to take any action on its complaint regarding the same and the civil work is continuing in violation of court orders.
The matter would be heard next on September 1.