HC notice to Delhi govt on 'financial irregularities' in tree plantings in Delhi
The court also sought the responses of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, DDA, MCD, NDMC, CPWD, PWD, Delhi Biodiversity Council, Delhi Parks & Gardens Society, ASI, NHAI & CPCB in the matter
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Delhi government, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), and others on a plea to ascertain the numbers and kinds of tree saplings planted in the national capital and their cost in the last five years, saying the government agencies' works merely on 'numerical targets' and 'publicise achievements.
'A Bench led by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma was hearing the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) also seeking an SIT probe or an independent inquiry committee in the matter and also to issue directions to the MoEFCC and all planting agencies to issue further directions under 5 of EPA Act, to necessarily maintain all fresh or compensatory Plantations for a minimum period of 8-10 years.
The court also sought the responses of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, DDA, MCD, NDMC, CPWD, PWD, Delhi Biodiversity Council, Delhi Parks & Gardens Society, ASI, NHAI & CPCB in the matter.
The plea was moved on behalf of environmentalist Diwan Singh, raising the issue of bulk or single day Plantations conducted by government agencies, which are ecologically inconsequential and biodiversity discouraging in the capital, witnessing alarming pollution levels, and which are being done to merely achieve numerical targets and publicize achievements.
The petition further raised the issue of severe scarcity of land available for plantations, the erroneous manner of plantations done extremely close to each other, which doesn't result in developed canopies, heights and are unable to absorb pollution, apart from the lack of maintenance in the initial years of plantation, leading to high mortality.
Appearing for the petitioner, Akash Vashishtha, Advocate, argued that none of the agencies conducted plantations were maintaining proper records regarding the species, numbers, exact areas, geotagged locations, costs involved and survival etc. "The CAG report highlights the blatant irregularities and the virtually defunct Delhi Tree Authority," he submitted.
"No information pertaining to the plantations are made publically available on their websites, not allowing a common citizen to view such important information and participate or to provide feedback," Vashishtha told the court.
"The grim survival rate is primarily because of the wrong method, single-day bulk plantations. Invasive species are planted instead of native ones which is destroying the city's biodiversity," he apprised.
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