Delhi High Court Demands Details on Tree Felling, Citing Air Quality Concerns

In a significant development linked to concerns over air quality in the National Capital Region, the Delhi High Court has proactively sought comprehensive details from the Secretary of Delhi’s Forest Department during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL). The court has requested information on permissions granted by the forest officer to authorities such as the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), Public Works Department (PWD), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), among others, for tree felling from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2024.

Additionally, the bench, headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet P.S. Arora, has also demanded details on notified reserved forests, protected forests (excluding parks or gardens), notified protected areas, notified open forests, and notified biodiversity parks in the capital.

The directives issued also cover the details of compensatory afforestation, the number of trees planted in open forests, the value of timber sold, and the accounting and allocation of generated revenue. The court has ordered that all this information be submitted within four weeks, with the next hearing scheduled for July 22.

The intervention came as the High Court was hearing multiple petitions concerning poor air quality in Delhi. During the proceedings, the court recognized the need for detailed data on deforestation activities and appointed an amicus curiae, senior advocate Kailash Vasudev, to assist in the matter. Vasudev emphasized the lack of data provision by officials on afforestation efforts and requested the court to issue necessary directives.

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