top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Sunday Guardian

Delhi High Court flays illegal, excessive pruning of trees in Vasant Vihar

Our trees and interlinked environment is our most precious natural resource, which unfortunately is being diminished by callous, selfish, and a few short-sighted citizens. The green cover provided by trees has infinite ecological, benefits, providing natural shade, cooling of air, binding of soil, enhancing vegetation, absorbing environmental carbon dioxide, helping to offset greenhouse gas emissions, and playing a vital link in climate control and combating the hazardous air pollution.

Depicts AnantLaw case on Trees Pruning being covered by National News in Sunday Guardian

This article was authored by Sanjeev Bagai and featured in The Sunday Guardian on 18June 2023. It talks about a case represented by AnantLaw.

What do we leave for our next generation? It just has to be a preserved healthy environment, rich natural resources, and non-polluted air, water and soil. There are many research papers in international journals to show how air pollution with high carbon dioxide and toxic gasses and particulate matter increase the mortality and morbidity of cardiac, metabolic, respiratory, and neurological events. Unhealthy air largely precipitated by dwindling green cover also precipitate cancer, mental health impact, strokes, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive lung diseases, heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrests, obesity etc. A full-grown tree takes many decades to bloom to its magnificent potential and here we have unscrupulous citizens who chop off and alienate fully grown trees for their selfish motive. This must STOP! NOW!

Vasant Vihar is a premium and prestigious A-grade colony in the heart of South Delhi. The local association representatives embarked on a treacherous and unethical and utterly unjustified journey to start cutting the trees in Vasant Vihar. This colony being one of the greenest in Delhi has a census of approximately 7,000 trees and this association decided unilaterally to cut and indeed in numerous cases completely uproot trees from their very roots, to camouflage their illegal actions they tried to cover their footprints with loose mud and leaves to wipe away the evidence and this criminal act against the environment numbered more than 800 trees. This illegal exercise by Team VVWA (Association), in Vasant Vihar started this illegal cutting and pruning of tress in November 2022 by engaging private contractors using public money of residents of Rs five lakh without any prior permission, approval or clearance from the landowning authorities and the necessary government agencies.

The task of cutting or pruning any tree has to be with strict provisions and approvals under law to be undertaken by government civic bodies. It can never be by any individual or a private group or any resident association. Some honest, upright, ethical residents raised objections about the illegal actions of this said association, and inspite of repeated attempts to sensitize the team VVWA of the consequences of illegal and unapproved pruning of trees, this association continued its bizarre rampage to butcher hundreds of trees, this forced me and a group of residents to approach the courts and tribunals. The matter was listed for its first hearing on 01.03.2023 and a Delhi Court subsequently appointed an Amicus-Curiae to inspect the trees in Vasant Vihar and found gross illegalities in the pruning of trees in the presence of officers of MCD, DDA, DCF and the Association. Alarmingly, it was also discovered that a large portion of government land of DDA was also encroached upon.

The Delhi High Court under the astute and respected wisdom of Justice Najmi Wazri expressed extreme displeasure on this illegal and unjustified pruning and cutting of trees in Vasant Vihar calling it a ‘Genocide of Trees in Vasant Vihar’.

The Delhi High Court in its final judgment (referring to pictures of rampant butchery to trees in Vasant Vihar) recorded the following: “How can there be justification for such pruning? These are glaring examples of misuse of the generous permission granted under the Guidelines to prune trees/tree branches having a girth up to 15.7 cm. Had the Tree Officer been accorded an occasion to inspect these trees before they were pruned, perhaps the hapless trees would not have suffered their current fate.” The Delhi High Court concluded that no pruning of trees can take place in Delhi unless the same is approved by the tree officer (after following the due process under the laws). Also, pruning of trees undertaken until now (for all trees) is illegal and non-est. The DCF will conclude the proceedings leading to conviction of individuals who were involved in this illegal, excessive pruning of trees in Vasant Vihar.

This battle against this tree demolishing lobby was fought hard by me (Dr Sanjeev Bagai), Mr Kumar and Mr Tandon. We were represented in great detail by the notable Senior Advocate of Supreme Court of India Mr. Vivek Sibal who kindly consented to take up the case on its sheer merit and the AnantLaw Team led by Advocates Anu Monga and Rahul Goel. Every citizen is a custodian of our environment and trees. Every citizen has a right to enjoy the green cover and breathe clean air. The petitioners and others were harassed, intimidated, abused and even threatened by this unethical tree demolishing lobby, but they stood firm in their resolve to preserve the trees.

Prof Dr Sanjeev Bagai is a Padma Shree Presidential Awardee, Dr B.C. Roy Presidential Awardee, Sr. Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist and Pead. Nephrologist.

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

AnantLaw Briefings

bottom of page