Why Contempt Action shouldn’t be Initiated for Disobeying Tree-Protection order, HC asks official

The Delhi High Court asked a Military Engineer Services (MES) official on Monday to explain why contempt action should not be initiated against him for violating its earlier directions on not carrying out any civil work within a two-metre radius of any existing tree without prior permission.

Justice Jasmeet Singh said photographs of excavation work carried out in the green belt on the station road in Delhi Cantonment showed that the mandate has “totally been given a go by and roots of trees have been cut without paying heed to the two-metre safety”.

The judge directed that no trenching activity shall take place at the site in violation of the court’s orders and asked the tree officer and station house officer (SHO) concerned to take remedial measures.

“Since there seems to be blatant violation (of directions), issue show-cause notice to chief engineer, Delhi zone, MES as to why contempt action should not be taken for disobedience of order dated January 29,” the court said.

It noted that the SHO showed “due importance” to the issue when he received a complaint about the damage and after being intimated, the tree officer also issued an order directing seizing of all work.

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Advocate Aditya N Prasad, who was appointed a court commissioner in the matter that concerns plantation of trees from the Green Fund, said the trees damaged due to the civil work carried out by the MES without prior permission were planted pursuant to the orders passed by the high court.

In the application, he said around 180 trees were planted along the station road in Delhi Cantonment last year and it was recently noticed that trenching activity has damaged certain trees in the area.

On January 29, the high court directed that all agencies in the national capital will need the tree officers’ permission to undertake civil work within a two-metre radius of any existing tree.

The court ordered that the condition shall be incorporated into the work contracts and tenders issued by government agencies and there will be a strict penalty in case of non-compliance.

The matter would be heard next on February 23.

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