Delhi High Court
In July, the Delhi High Court had stalled the felling of trees indefinitely.IANS File Photo

In what can be a major victory for environmentalists, the Delhi High Court has stalled the Nauroji Nagar World Trade Centre project till further notice.  The court has pulled up the government for misinterpreting its previous order and continuing construction in the area.

The court said that it will not allow the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) to continue the construction of the World Trade Centre unless the government justifies on what grounds did they decide to redevelop the area. A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice VK Rao said to the government that it should justify its action in Nauroji Nagar. The court's statement has come after the NBCC had requested it to let it continue the construction. 

The bench also restated its previous order which had halted the development and redevelopment of seven projects in south Delhi stating that the redevelopment would result in a population increase in the area. It stalled the redevelopment in the seven colonies till further orders and asked the NBCC to submit a new plan within two weeks if they wish to continue the construction.

The government also informed the court that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs had decided to revisit its decision in relation to the six housing projects. The court asked the government to come up with a revised plan within two weeks and submit a report to the court.

"We want to see how approval for each clearance was given by the agency concerned, and whether all statutory rules were followed during the same," the bench said.

After the orders, the National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) will be stopped from continuing any construction work in the seven colonies Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Kasturba Nagar, RK Puram Thyagaraja Nagar and Mohammadpur.

The court also made it clear that it was only allowing the NBCC to carry out scaffolding at the Nauroji Nagar construction site so that the already constructed portion does not get damaged by rains and other external factors. It stated that any other construction activity apart from scaffolding needs to be stopped immediately. Scaffolding involves building temporary structures of wood or metal around the concrete structure to aid construction activity for labourers. 

The National Green Tribunal had on July 2, stopped the felling of at least 14,000 trees for the redevelopment of the seven south Delhi neighbourhoods and had ordered that no trees would be cut by the NBCC and CPWD in South Delhi colonies till further orders.

Following the NGT orders, the Delhi High Court had put on hold the felling of trees indefinitely with regards to the NBCC projects. Observing that "felling of trees severely impacts and destroys the environment", the court had said the NBCC should give "clear cut answer about felling of trees and the details of the project" by the next date of hearing.

The High Court order had come as a relief for activists and residents of the capital city who had been campaigning against the government's decision to cut thousands of trees, which they believed was absurd considering the already polluted condition of the national capital. 

The World Trade Centre project was launched in May earlier this year with Vice President Venkaiah Naidu laying the foundation stone for the World Trade Centre in Nauroji Nagar. The project is being developed by NBCC India Ltd under license from World Trade Centre, New York. NBCC is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs

WTC Nauroji Nagar was being touted as the first of its kind project in Delhi NCR and is supposed to change the National Capital's skyline with the construction of 12 new commercial towers spanning over 3 million sq ft area.