The Delhi High Court on Thursday expressed its anguish over the damage caused to vegetation in the heart of the national capital during the recent thunderstorm, saying that several trees succumbed to the strong winds on account of the callousness of the city authorities.
Justice Najmi Waziri, while dealing with contempt cases concerning the preservation of trees in Mira Marg and Vikas Marg areas, observed that the roots of the trees had weakened owing to the roads or concretisation of the earth around it and callousness in their care and upkeep.
“We can't have this going on after what Delhi has witnessed in the last three days. Who is responsible for that? The officers. It is because of their callousness that the city has lost hundreds of trees in the heart of the city, where people are living. These trees are 40-30 years, and 50 years old. What is happening? PWD came and encroached up to the neck of these trees. There was space to breathe, no air to go in, no water going in. The roots had become dried up. Everything toppled over in one storm,” the court said.
The judge remarked that the “city is suffering because an officer is doing his work like this” and that he “will hold” the officers concerned in the present proceedings guilty of contempt.
The court noted that in another case, it has already held two officers of PWD guilty of contempt of court for willfully disobeying and breaching the court's directions with respect to trees.
Advocate Aditya Prasad, appearing for the petitioners, highlighted an instance of a tree that fell in the storm and was subsequently cut down and the court sought an explanation from the authorities with respect to its status.
“There are no traces of it anymore. The sequence of its disappearance is witnessed in the photographs. Let an explanation in this regard be filed by the officer concerned,” the court said.
“The city has witnessed extensive devastation to its vegetation caused by a thunderstorm. Majestic old trees have succumbed to the strong winds because the roots had weakened courtesy largely to the agencies owning the roads or permitting concretisation of the earth around it and indeed, callously disregarding care, upkeep of the trees,” the court stated.
On May 19, the court had passed an interim order in the matter and stayed any further felling of trees in Delhi The court had opined that there was no other way to mitigate the ecological and environmental degradation in the city while noting that over 29,000 trees were cut down in the past three years in the national capital and questioned if Delhi has the “luxury” to bear such numbers.
The matter would be heard next on June 3.