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Delhi govt yet to take a call on tree translocation policy of Center's panel

NEW DELHI: The AAP-led Delhi government is yet to take a decision on the tree translocation policy as recommended by the Central government-appointed experts' panel on the issue of redevelopment projects in the South Delhi. A day after the recommendation came, various green bodies and NGOs wrote to the Delhi government urging not to take up the recommendations without further study.

A central government-appointed expert panel has recommended for environmental clearance to three redevelopment projects in South Delhi, which have been lurking over the proposal to fell a large number of trees after they were revised to translocate trees instead of cutting them. The expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MOEFCC) has cleared the revised housing projects in Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar and Kasturba Nagar colonies.

"The Delhi government has received the recommendations and also the letters from the NGOs but the government will only take a call after May 23. We will also study the recommendations and suggestions in details," said an official. He also said that the Delhi government would go for any steps without proper monitoring and study. "The AAP-led government is very serious about the environmental issues and we will not take any decision which might harm the city," said the official.

According to the revised plans of these colonies, trees will be translocated/ transplanted instead of being cut, which the environmentalists feel will be a "failure". In Sarojini Nagar, out of 11,913 trees, 3,500 trees will be translocated and the rest will be retained at the project site.

In Netaji Nagar, of the 3,906 proposed trees to be felled, 1,600 are to be translocated and the rest retained.

In Kasturba Nagar, 405 will be translocated, and 798 retained, as per the EAC meeting minutes. The EAC noted that due to petitions in the Delhi High Court and NGT against the redevelopment of seven GPRA (General Pool Residential Accommodation) colonies over felling of trees, including the three colonies which have now been cleared, there was a status quo on these projects since July 2018.

"During deliberations, the EAC noted that as per the environmental clearance granted vide dated June 12, 2018, initial activities were taken up but due to writ petitions /PIL filed in the Delhi High Court and National Green Tribunal (NGT) against felling of trees, the High Court had ordered to maintain status quo in redevelopment of all seven GPRA Colonies including Sarojini Nagar on July 2, 2018 and July 26, 2018," the EAC's minutes of meeting said.

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