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1.1K trees cut in south Delhi: Bharadwaj sends notice to key forest, DDA officials | Latest News Delhi

1.1K trees cut in south Delhi: Bharadwaj sends notice to key forest, DDA officials | Latest News Delhi

New Delhi

Felled trees in south Delhi. (Sanchit Khanna/HT)

Delhi urban development minister Saurabh Bharadwaj on Tuesday issued notices to the principal secretary of environment and forest, forest department officials and DDA officials, including its vice chairman, asking them to appear before a three-minister fact-finding committee over illegal felling of 1,100 trees at a reserve forest in south Delhi earlier this year.

The minister said the committee directed officials from DDA, forest and police to appear before it on Monday but only police officials appeared.

“Now, forest and DDA officials have to appear before the committee..,” the minister said at a press conference in Delhi secretariat.

Delhi’s environment and forest minister Gopal Rai on Saturday formed a three-minister fact-finding committee to ascertain the details about the felling of 1,100 trees by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in south Delhi. Delhi forest department principal secretary AK Singh on Monday wrote to forest minister Gopal Rai, saying that the committee was formulated in violation of rules.

Bharadwaj, who is a member of the committee, said the behaviour exhibited by the department officials is “as if they are violating some unknown rules and laws” by being called to the meeting.

“Principal secretary (forest and environment) AK Singh had also written a letter regarding this matter. Therefore, today, we have sent a response to the department officials. In our response, we addressed the officials’ reference to the Transactions of Business Rules (TBR) in their letter, stating that they are only obliged to respond to their own minister and not to a minister from another department. According to Rule 19(3) of the TBR book, it is clearly stated that any minister can request information from the officials of any department, and if the information is confidential, it can be provided with permission from their respective minister,” Bharadwaj said.

“However, the surprising fact here is that despite multiple requests, the officials did not provide any report to their own minister. The three-minister committee was formed with the approval of the minister of the department concerned, Gopal Rai, as he was also present in the all-ministers meeting. Hence, the reference to the TBR book laws by the officials is completely incorrect,” he said.

Bharadwaj said any minister can organise multiple meetings on any issue. “We have once again issued a notice to all the officials concerned to attend the meeting. The notice is signed by all three members of the committee of ministers, as well as by environment minister Gopal Rai, to prevent officials from using the excuse,” said Bharadwaj.

AK Singh did not respond to multiple requests from HT for comment.

The Delhi Development Authority and lieutenant governor also did not comment on the issue.

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