New Delhi: The AAP government has assured the Delhi High Court that the latter's direction of planting 1.4 lakh saplings in the central ridge area here will be implemented without further delay.
The assurance came after the court warned of contempt action against the forest department officials for non-compliance of its order.
The Delhi government's assurance, however, is in contrast to its forest department's claim that the land is under its control in the central ridge area would not support plantation in such huge numbers.
It also told the high court that in the first instance, it will plant 30,000 trees before 15 June and a report along with aerial photographs would be filed indicating compliance.
The submissions were made by the government before Justice Najmi Waziri after the court said planting only 1,500 trees in 15 weeks after its March 11 order to plant 1.4 lakh saplings of deciduous indigenous variety amounted to "breach" of its direction and warranted "initiation of contempt proceedings" against the officials responsible.
According to a report filed by two local commissioners appointed by the court to inspect the plantation process, the forest department officials expressed difficulty in complying with the 11 March order as the terrain and topography of the area allegedly would not support planting of saplings in such large numbers.
The officials had told the local commissioners that the ridge topography is rocky with very thin top soil and there is space for only 3,500 saplings of which 1,500 have been planted and space was being demarcated for the remaining 2,000 saplings.
After perusing the report, the court said, "Thus far, only 1,500 trees have been planted and another 2,000 trees are in the process of being planted. About 15 weeks have gone by but the order has not been complied. What has been done is de minimis compliance i.e. only one per cent of the 1,40,000 trees have been planted."
"The order of March 11 remains unaltered. It ought to have been complied with. The Deputy Conservator of forests (DCF) (South) is in breach of this court's directions. His inaction would straightaway warrant initiation of contempt proceedings," it said.
Shortly thereafter, the court was informed that the chief secretary of Delhi government has directed the forest department to comply with the order immediately, keeping in view the urgent need for a meaningful green cover in the national capital.
Taking note of the submission, the court said it will take up the issue of no-compliance of its March 11 order and the delay in plantation on the next date of hearing.
The high court's order to plant 1.4 lakh saplings came on a plea filed by pharma major Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) seeking contempt action against Indian drug company -- Venkatanarayana Active Ingredients Pvt Ltd, formerly Nutra Specialities Pvt Ltd -- for breach of judicial orders not to manufacture and sell diabetes medication under the brand names used by MSD.
After the Indian company admitted to the breach of court orders and apologised for it, the high court had imposed a cost of ₹80 lakh on it to be utilised for "larger public good" and directed that the amount be spent on creating a larger green area in and around the city by planting 1.4 lakh trees in the central ridge.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.