NGT Panel to Investigate Alleged Violations During Renovation of Delhi CM’s Residence

An applicant alleged that more than 20 trees had been cut while putting up constructions without the approval of the Delhi Urban Art Commission.

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal, India’s apex green court, has appointed a panel to look into the alleged violations during the construction carried out for the renovation work in Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence.

The NGT order dated May 9 was in response to an allegation that more than 20 trees were cut during the illegal construction by the Public Works Department, and that permission to cut the trees was taken by circumventing existing rules. The matter has been posted to May 31, by which time the panel will submit its report. 

Illegal construction, trees cut

Delhi resident Naresh Chaudhary in his application drew the NGT’s attention to an alleged violation of environmental norms in constructions at 6 Flag Staff Road and 45-47 Rajpur Road, New Delhi by the Public Works Department. 

As per Chaudhary’s advocate, permanent and semipermanent constructions were raised and more than 20 trees cut. However, the approval for the constructions had already been denied by the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC). The DUAC was established by an Act in 1973 to advise the government regarding “preserving, developing, and maintaining the aesthetic quality of urban and environmental design within Delhi”. It also advises and guides local bodies regarding building operations or engineering operations or any development proposal which affects the skyline or aesthetics of the area.

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The applicant also alleged that permissions obtained from the Forest Department to cut 28 trees on different dates between November 2020 and March 2022 were taken by “manipulation and circumvention”. As per a 2009 order by the Department of Forests and Wildlife, permission is required from Delhi’s Conservator of Forests and Secretary (Environment and Forest) to cut 10 to 20 trees and more than 20 trees. To avoid this, permissions of groups of less than ten trees were taken.

“Instead of disclosing that 28 trees were to be cut in which permission of higher authority was required, permissions were taken in instalments of less than 10 trees,” the applicant alleged. 

Panel to prepare report

A three-member bench led by chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel announced a joint committee comprising the Delhi chief secretary, the Delhi principal secretary (Environment and Forest), a nominee of the Delhi Urban Art Commission, and the district magistrate (north).  The committee will look into the issue to “ascertain the factual position”. The Committee will meet within one week and provide a report within three, the NGT order also said.

The matter has been posted to May 31.