NGT gives govt panel 4 more weeks to furnish report on alleged violation of green norms at Kejriwal’s residence

The National Green Tribunal has expressed disappointment over a panel not submitting its report on alleged violation of environmental norms in constructing some structures at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s official residence.

Noting that the panel which was constituted in May this year to ascertain the factual position had failed to comply with the NGT’s direction, the tribunal granted it four more weeks for filing the report, and warned that the failure to do so will lead to issuance of summons to the state’s chief secretary to appear before it.

A joint committee comprising the chief secretary, principal secretary (Environment & Forest) of the Delhi government, a nominee of the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC), and the district magistrate of north Delhi was constituted to go into the matter pursuant to the tribunal’s order dated May 9,

The NGT was dealing with a petition which has alleged that permanent and semi-permanent constructions were raised and more than 20 trees cut by the Public Works Department (PWD) in the course of developing 6, Flag Staff Road (CM’s residence) and 45-47 Rajpur Road (properties adjoining it).

The official bungalow of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is in the eye of a political storm, with the CBI registering a preliminary enquiry (PE) in September to look into alleged “irregularities and misconduct” in the construction of a new official residence for the CM.

BJP and Congress leaders have alleged over Rs 40 crore public money was spent on renovating and constructing the lavish quarters.

The ruling Aam Admi Party has rejected allegations of any wrongdoing.

In an order passed on October 30, a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Prakash Shrivastava said after the tribunal’s direction in May, the matter has been adjourned twice but the report was still awaited.

“We grant a further four weeks’ time to the joint committee to file the report, failing which the Chief Secretary, Delhi will personally appear by virtual mode on the next date of hearing (on January 15),” the bench said.

During the proceedings, the tribunal noted a report filed by the Deputy Conservator of Forests (Central Delhi) said the CBI has started a preliminary enquiry in the matter.

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It also noted that PWD had sought two weeks to submit the requisite documents, including those regarding permission and compensatory plantation.

According to the petition, the constructions were made illegally, without the approval of the DUAC, and in contravention of the commission’s observation about increasing the green area.

Section 12 of the Delhi Urban Art Commission Act says the municipal corporation concerned cannot approve development proposals without getting the go-ahead from the DUAC.

“Thus, construction was raised illegally, ignoring the observations of DUAC for increasing the green area which is a violation of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957, requiring valid approval for construction,” the petition said.

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