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  • Writer's pictureHindustan Times

Delhi HC stays rule to prevent indiscriminate tree pruning

The court’s decision follows a petition filed by a professor and doctor who said that 800 trees in Vasant Viharhad been pruned or lopped off.

This news report was authored by Richa Banka and featured in Hindustan Times on 24 May 2023. The article talks about a case represented by AnantLaw team.

The Delhi high court has said that no land-owning agency or authority, including the civic body, will be allowed to prune trees with girths of up to 15.7cm without consulting the tree officer, while putting one of the pruning guidelines on hold.

The court stayed clause 5 of the pruning guidelines, which says that no permission from the tree office was required for regular pruning/general tending of branches up to girth size of 15.7cm, and that the work could be done by civic agencies at regular intervals.

Justice Najmi Waziri said in the May 10 order, which was released on Tuesday, that “prima facie this part of the pruning guidelines is incongruous with the statutory requirements, as mandated in the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994.”

“Therefore, to ensure that no trees are felled or that large branches of trees are chopped at will to reduce them to a mere pole-like entity, clause 5 of the Guidelines shall not be implemented until the next date. It is hoped that the tree authority will respond to the notice by then,” the court said as it scheduled the hearing for Wednesday, May 24.

The court said in its order that if permission is granted solely on the grounds that the trees were impeding reconstruction, the city will be devoid of tree-lined avenues and a large portion of its green cover sooner or later.

“In some ways, this would be a legalised genocide of trees, and Delhi would soon resemble nothing more than a mass of concrete. If it is absolutely necessary to cut down trees for large public projects or if it is absolutely necessary to cut down trees on a private entity’s application, it will require the tree officer to personally inspect the site, assess the situation, apply his mind, and if necessary, permit the cutting of a tree but only after having exhausted all possibility of saving the tree and ensuring its transplantation, along with compensatory afforestation,” the court said.

The court’s decision follows a petition filed by professor and doctor Sanjeev Bagai, who said that as many as 800 trees in south Delhi’s Vasant Viharhad been pruned or lopped off without following proper procedure and guidelines.

On January 19, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered that any additional tree pruning, if deemed necessary, be carried out by the concerned civic authorities such as the municipal corporation of Delhi or the Delhi development authority, in strict accordance with the provisions of the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994, and Guidelines issued by the Deputy Conservator of Forest, (HQ)/Member Secretary, Tree Authority for Tree Pruning under the Delhi Preservations of Trees Act, 1994.

The court had previously appointed Aditya N Prasad as an amicus curiae to assess the situation on the ground and assist the court.

Client: Prof. Dr. Sanjeev Bagai, Padam Shree
Prof. Dr. Sanjeev Bagai & Ors. v. Department of Environment, Government of NCT of Delhi & Ors.

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