On leave? Delhi Tree Authority has met just 8 times since 1995

Delhi: 8 Sept., 2021 (Times of India)


NEW DELHI: Delhi Tree Authority (DTA), a statutory body set up in 1995 to preserve trees in the capital, is largely lying defunct, reveals RTI data.

While it is supposed to meet once every three months, DTA has only held eight out of the mandated 104 meetings since its inception, the data collated by an environmental lawyer has revealed. The data also shows DTA, which is required to give consent to fell trees for any project, has met only thrice in the past eight years.

Aditya N Prasad, the lawyer who filed the RTIs, has now written to the Delhi chief secretary asking for an inquiry to examine the reasons for the violation of the provisions of Delhi Preservation of Trees Act (DPTA), 1994 and take necessary action to ensure regular meetings.

The statutory body meant to protect and preserve the trees of the capital seems to be missing in action. This is unacceptable, especially in a city bedevilled by pollution. Those constituting the body must take their job seriously and meet regularly.

Following Section 4 of DPTA, the authority “should have met at least 104 times till date since it was first constituted on 24.07.1995. However, records reveal that the tree authority has met only eight times till date... This letter intends to bring to your notice this serious non-implementation of a mandatory provision of DPTA and utter disregard of the statutory obligations of the tree authority”, Prasad wrote.

The RTI replies collected by him reveal that the first meeting was held by DTA only on October 5, 2007, while it was set up in 1995. DTA then met on April 5, 2011; February 2 and September 4, 2012; July 22, 2013; December 2, 2016; November 9, 2017; and September 25, 2019.

Under DPTA, the authority is required to preserve trees, carry out a census of existing trees, maintain nurseries and provide saplings to people. It can also get trees planted or transplanted and undertake critical studies for proposals from the government for construction projects with the aim of protecting existing trees or planting more.

“In light of the above legislative mandate, I urge you to please take cognizance of the above-mentioned brazen violation of the law and consider setting up of an inquiry to examine the reasons because of which the mandatory provisions of DPTA were blatantly ignored,” Prasad urged.

“You are also requested to kindly issue necessary directions to the officials concerned to ensure that the tree authority conducts regular meetings as mandated by Section 4 of DPTA,” he added, asking for the agenda and minutes of the meeting to be made available in public domain.