The Aam Aadmi Party today accused Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan of “misguiding” people over the plan to cut down over 16,500 trees in the national capital for redevelopment of seven colonies, claiming that his ministry had given environment clearance to the project.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj claimed that the environmental impact assessment report for the project was approved by the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change and no public hearing was held on it.
“Harsh Vardhan has misguided the people of Delhi as he said that the Central government has nothing to do with cutting of trees. It was his ministry that approved the environmental impact assessment and notified environment clearance to the project,” he said.
Asserting that the documents accessed through ministry’s website showed that the environmental impact assessment for the project was merely theoretical, the AAP leader said, “It is theory only and no assessment. It pays no attention to ground water level and pollution level in areas covered under the project.”
The people of the affected colonies were caught unaware about large number of felling of trees as there was no public hearing before the project, he claimed, adding, “According to papers the public hearing was held on January 1, 1900 which is impossible. It seems ghosts attended it 118 years ago.”
Bhardwaj further alleged that the project was aimed at developing “commercial properties” instead of providing residential accommodation.
“The brochure of the project details how it will be a commercial property. It states that there will be a World Trade Centre, conference facilities and prime marketing spaces under it,” he said.
The redevelopment project, involving seven colonies in south Delhi, is embroiled in blame game involving the AAP and BJP, while locals, activists and environmentalists hugging trees, launching their own “Chipko Movement”, a forest conservation movement where people embraced trees to prevent them from being cut in Uttarakhand (then Uttar Pradesh) in the 1970s.