Citing delay in various important projects like Central Vista, Metro Phase IV, Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS), Dwarka Expressway, due to pending tree removal permission, Delhi Lt Governor VK Saxena has written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to address the issue and fix responsibility for it.
According to the norms, 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 officials in the LG’s office.
”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 to Kejriwal.
He cited that projects delayed due to the pending permission of Forest department include EMU at Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station, redevelopment of general pool accommodation at Sarojini Nagar, construction of executive enclave of Central Vista project, construction of residential quarters for CISF among others, according to the officials.
Section 9(3) of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 mandates that the Tree Officer will give his decision within 60 days from the date of receipt of the application seeking permission to fell, cut, remove or dispose of a tree, said the letter.
”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.
The LG has said accountability needs to be fixed for delay in permission for tree cutting /transplantation, which is resulting in waste of public funds due to time and cost overrun of the projects, the officials said.
Such ”unwarranted delays” in 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.
Saxena said 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 to Kejriwal.
”Pendency in completion of the projects is also delaying services of public utilities to the Delhi people. Also, due to delay in decision making by Forest department, departments and agencies concerned with various affected projects are burdening courts with pleas of relief,” the LG said.