The Delhi High Court has asked the city government, PWD, DDA and DMRC to file detailed affidavits on the number of trees cut and number of trees replanted in Delhi.
A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva also asked the Centre and Delhi government to produce the action plan for the last 15 years to improve air quality.
Earlier, amicus curiae Kailash Vasdev told the court that over 1,00,000 trees were cut in Delhi without any replanting to make up for the loss.
“The tree officer has granted permission to DMRC to cut 48,500 trees. The PWD has felled over 52,000 trees for the alleged development of the flyovers and roads in the past eight years. Many of trees were over 100 years of age,” Vasdev told the bench.
Hearing the plea, the bench said: “The cutting of trees in this magnitude has increased the air pollution in Delhi,” adding that “we want Central government to be represented in seriousness. We don’t want uncoordinated, unplanned action which is going on now”.
The amicus curiae also argued that the felling of trees for any purpose must be banned. “In all the infrastructural works trees are the first victims. They are seldom replanted,” he informed the bench.
He further said: “There were 26 notified forests in the city, but very few are left now. The forest authorities gave permission to cut trees around the Ridge, due to which aquifers and water bodies have gone dry.”
“Delhi has only 10.2 percent forest cover left as of year 2009, even though Forests Act says 30 percent is minimum,” said amicus curiae, fearing that it would have been depleted even further by this year.
He also said that about 10,500 people are dying directly because of pollution relating ailments like asthma, cardiovascular diseases, carcinogenic cancer etc. and also alleged that increasing percentage of pollution was due to high number of two wheelers in the capital and not buses.
About 400 two-wheelers are sold in capital every day, amicus curiae said.
At the outset, the bench expressed “disappointment” that most of the authorities were not taking up the matter of air pollution seriously.
The amicus curiae submitted a report which stated: “Vehicular pollution has grown at alarming rates in India due to growing urbanisation warranting the use of vehicles for transportation. Delhi has more vehicles than Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai put together.”
The court had taken a suo motu cognizance of the issue after taking note of a report that said Delhi was the most polluted city in the world.
Air in Delhi is the most polluted in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The report contained results of outdoor air pollution monitored in almost 1,600 cities in 91 countries.(IANS)