Delhi HC voices “extreme displeasure” over non-compliance with tree plantation orders

The Delhi High Court on Monday expressed its “extreme displeasure” over government officials failing to comply with directions on greening the arterial roads in the national capital.

Justice Jasmeet Singh, who was informed about around 400 trees planted along the Ring Road having died due to lack of maintenance and rampant car parking, directed the special secretaries of PWD and forest departments to file an affidavit explaining why the trees were not looked after in spite of an assurance to that effect made before the court.

“I personally feel that will is lacking. Nobody cares for Delhi,” said the judge, adding contempt proceedings in such instances can “only push that much”.

“This court expresses extreme displeasure with the response of departments of PWD and forest. Let the special secretary of (Public Works Department) PWD and forest departments file an affidavit indicating why court orders are not being implemented, the status of tree plantation and why same are not being looked after,” the court said.

The court directed the authorities to ensure a dedicated “monitoring cell” for trees is set up by the next date of hearing in February and also sought to know the number of inspections undertaken by officials for the upkeep of the 400 trees that were planted along the Ring Road.

The passed the order on an application by advocate Aditya N Prasad, the court commissioner in the matter involving tree plantation in the capital.

He claimed gross dereliction by officials in complying with the directions of the court which resulted in “heavy loss and attrition” of the planted trees which were procured from the funds in the ‘Green Delhi Account’. He referred to 400 trees planted along the Ring Road near South-Extension having perished.

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The court observed that the money being spent on tree plantation was from the Green Fund collected over several years through court orders, and wanted to know what was the problem in efficient execution of schemes for extending the green cover in the national capital.

The court asked the government to file a response to Prasad’s application which sought directions for appointment of a nodal officer by various agencies like the Delhi Jal Board to ensure implementation of judicial orders in the matter and constitution of a monitoring cell by the forest department.

Earlier this year, the high court had ordered plantation of at least 10,000 trees in the city by using Rs 70 lakh collected from defaulting litigants as costs in several legal matters.

The court had asked its registry to publicise the existence of “Green Delhi Account” in its “Cause List”, with a note that the contributions can also be made directly by citizens and public spirited entities.

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