“In lieu of the 29 tender trees to be cut, we have planted 300 trees of different species”; SC allows IIMC, JNU to remove 29 small trees to construct new buildings for academic block

Supreme Court: The 3-Judge Bench of SA Bobde, CJ and AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ allowed the instant application seeking permission for removal of 29 small trees for the construction of the new academic block.

Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New JNU Campus had filed an application seeking permission of the Court to construct a new building for the Academic Block, Hostel Block and Guest House on the total area of 12933 sq. meters out of total area extant of 16.2 acres since such construction required removal of 29 small trees. The requirement of the applicant was examined by the Central Empowering Committee (“CEC”). CEC having adverted to the entire details had recommended that construction might be permitted if the applicant agrees to comply with the following conditions:

  • IIMC should deposit 5% of the sanctioned project cost with the Ridge Management Board Fund and which under the close supervision and direction of the Board should be used by the Forest Department, Delhi Government for conservation and protection of Delhi Ridge;
  • The proposed construction should not in any manner disturb the storm water drain passing through the 16.2 acres of land in the possession of IIMC during the construction phase as well as the post-construction phase;
  • The proposed buildings should optimally utilize the roof top for harnessing solar energy;
  • The building plan should make provision to ensure harvesting and utilisation of the rain water within the developed area;
  • Only minimum number of trees which are absolutely unavoidable, for the construction of the building, would be felled;
  • IIMC should demarcate the 16.2 acres of land allotted to it by JNU and submit a map of the proposed construction area;
  • A minimum of 40% of the 16.2 acres of the morphological ridge area should be maintained as green zone and the IIMC would undertake planting of native tree species replacing the subabul plants which were seen growing profusely in the open area during the site visit; and
  • The open area identified for providing parking slots should be maintained as a green area and accordingly, the layout plans should be modified.

Bench observed that in lieu of the 29 tender trees to be cut, the applicant institute had planted 300 trees of different species and the 29 trees which were to be cut belonged to shisham, kikar and papri species. The trees planted were of above species as also other species.

In the light of the above, the Court allowed the applicant to make construction in terms of the conditions stated by the CEC. [T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 23, decided on 13-01-2021]

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