Delhi losing forest cover, injustice to nature; Leave some mountains, rivers for future gen: HC

The court also asked the authorities to explain the reason for defiance of its earlier orders passed in the matter and listed the matter for further hearing on March 13

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The law officer said the court registry has raised certain objections in the petition. (Representational image)

Delhi High Court on Wednesday observed that the national capital was “drastically” losing its forest cover and “injustice” was being done to nature.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad asked Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati to personally look into the matter.

It also asked her about the status of a pending case before the Supreme Court with identical issues, including depletion of green cover.

“This is a case highlighting that the forest cover in Delhi is reducing drastically and buildings are being constructed around the central ridge area and that encroachments around Asola sanctuary are not removed. Does the matter pending in the Supreme Court has taken care of the forest cover of Delhi too?,” the bench asked Bhati.

To this, the law officer said the apex court’s matter included everything and they were also waiting for the hearing before the top court.

The bench further said, “Please personally look into this. Delhi is losing its forest cover like anything. We are keeping this (matter) after four weeks. The amicus curiae has done a great job and has brought all minute details to our notice. We feel that injustice is being done to nature. We should leave something for the generations to come — mountains, rivers and forests.”

The high court was hearing a batch of public interest litigations on the problem of poor ambient air quality in Delhi, an issue which it has taken up suo motu and in which it has also appointed an amicus curiae.

The court also asked the authorities to explain the reason for defiance of its earlier orders passed in the matter and listed the matter for further hearing on March 13.

It also asked the Centre, Delhi government, the Forest department and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to explain in an affidavit how a multi-storeyed building in the Ridge area got permission for the construction of flats.

Senior Advocate and Amicus Curiae Kailash Vasudev apprised the court of an advertisement on flats on sale in the Chattarpur area of south Delhi.

“It is on the ridge area, you cannot build it as there is a prohibition. Somewhere some answer is needed, I can’t say more. I think the court should issue a notice to the MCD to explain this. Ask for an affidavit from the MCD commissioner to answer what is there,” he said, adding that the advertisement was freely being distributed to everyone.

He also showed certain photographs to the court to highlight the loss of forest cover, especially in the areas around Asola sanctuary, the airport and the President’s house.

These areas are surrounded by slums and that the Yamuna river bank “today is one huge unplanned slum”, he said.

While giving his suggestions to increase forest cover in the city, Vasudev said the government should clean the identified areas where encroachments had been done in the Ridge area.

“You cannot take protection for your illegal acts,” he said, adding that the court should call upon the government to clean these areas, which are the vote banks of politicians.

(With PTI inputs)

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