Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena has written to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal pointing out that “several major projects have been held up for an unreasonable period of time” since they are awaiting permission for felling or transplanting trees under the Delhi Preservation of Trees of Act, 1994.
Among the projects he listed as being “held up on account of the above reason” was the Executive Enclave of the Central Vista project. The Indian Express had reported on August 9 that the Delhi State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) was yet to grant environment clearance to the Executive Enclave, which will house the Prime Minister’s Office, the Cabinet Secretariat, the National Security Council Secretariat and India House.
The SEIAA had sent the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) proposal for environment clearance back to the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) earlier this year, asking it to examine the implementation of the Tree Transplantation Policy since “substantial tree transplantation is involved”.
The Delhi government did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment on the matte
Saxena listed projects being executed by Union government departments and agencies, and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. In addition to the Executive Enclave, the others that Saxena said were “held up” were the redevelopment of General Pool Accommodation at Sriniwaspuri/Sarojini Nagar, construction of residential quarters for Central Industrial Security Force, corridors of Delhi MRTS Phase IV, Dwarka Expressway, and “EMU at Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station etc.”
The letter noted that “such unwarranted delays in disposal of applications regarding permission for tree cutting/transplantation is resulting in waste of public funds due to time and cost overrun of the projects for which accountability needs to be fixed.”
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The letter pointed out that the Tree Officer is required to give his decision within 60 days of receiving the application, “but a significant number of applications seeking permission for tree felling under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 are pending with the department for varying periods of time beyond sixty days. In some cases, the pendency is exceeding more than a year.”
The letter added: “Considering the public importance of projects and the inconvenience being faced by several agencies, I had raised the matter regarding undue delay in disposal of applications for grant of permission for tree cutting/ translocation in case of various projects of CPWD, DMRC, Indian Railways several times during my meetings with you, however, the pendency continues to persist.”