Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said that the Centre had not given permission for the mass felling of trees in South Delhi for the re-construction project of several colonies.
"The Government of NCT of Delhi has neither taken any permission, nor does it need to take any such permission from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change," read a statement .
The statement added that all such tree felling is "carried out with the approval of concerned authorities of Delhi Government and permissions have been given as per the Delhi Preservation of Tree Act, 1994, which is a State Act ."
"We are committed to increasing the green cover . Despite huge developmental work taking place, the green cover has been steadily increasing in Delhi and also in the whole of India," Vardhan said .
"This is evident from the fact that there has been an increase of 7,84,300 ha of green cover in the country in the last two years as per the India State of Forest Report, 2017 . During the same period, the green cover of NCT of Delhi has also increased by 563 ha . Now the green cover of Delhi is 20 .59 percent of its total geographical area," Vardhan added .
This comes after Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain earlier wrote a letter to Vardhan to draw the latter's attention towards the violation of rules in the felling of trees in South Delhi .
Hussain said in the letter that the National Buildings and Construction Company (NBCC) failed to comply with an order of National Green Tribunal (NGT) in September 2017, which stated, "The plants shall be planted as a condition precedent to the cutting of the trees ."
Hussain further urged the Forest Department to take relevant actions in the connection .
The Delhi High Court on June 25 directed the state-owned construction company to not cut any more trees in the national capital till July 4 .
The NBCC and Central Public Works Department (CPWD) also assured that they comply with the order and not cut trees till July 4 .
Around 16,500 trees were likely to be cut down for the redevelopment of office and residential complex for central government officials in Sarojini Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Mohammadpur, Tyagraj Nagar among others .