The Aam Aadmi Party on Wednesday accused the Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan of "misguiding" people over the plan to cut down over 16,500 trees and claimed that the Environment ministry had given the clearance for redevelopment of seven colonies in the capital.
Aam Aadmi Party 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," said Bhardwaj.
Bhardwaj also said that the documents accessed through ministry's website showed that the environmental impact assessment for the project was merely theoretical and no attention was paid to ground water level and pollution level of Delhi.
"It is theory only and no assessment. It pays no attention to ground water level and pollution level in areas covered under the project," Bhardwaj added.
Bhardwaj claimed that people were unaware about the incident as there was no public hearing before the project.
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.
The Delhi High Court on June 25 questioned the move of felling over 16,500 trees for the project. Taking note of the views expressed by the court which appeared inclined to order an interim stay of the tree chopping process, the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC), tasked with redeveloping half a dozen south Delhi colonies, agreed not to cut any tree till July 4 when the case will come up again for hearing by the court.
(with PTI inputs)