The Delhi High Court, on Thursday, expressed its anguish over the damage caused to trees 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.
“We can’t have this going on after what Delhi has seen 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. These trees are 40 years, 30 years, 50 years old. What has been happening? The PWD came and actually encroached up to the neck of these trees. There was no space to breathe, no air to go in, the roots had become dry,” said Justice Najmi Waziri during the hearing of a contempt petition related to preservation of trees.
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.
“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 bench further said that the city witnessed “extensive devastation” to its vegetation caused by the thunderstorm. “Majestic old trees have succumbed to the strong winds primarily 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 tree,” said Justice Waziri.
“If you denude it in the heart of a city where people are living, it is of no consequence. Tell your department to get some new officers from wherever you want. Take them from some other department. We can’t have the tree officers, DCFs being so handicapped,” said the court, while stressing on the need of more officers in the forest department.