The National Green Tribunal has refused to order demolition of the Siri Fort Sports Complex, including its squash and badminton courts, in Delhi, but held that the entire complex and its various constructed portions would not be put to any kind of commercial use or non-sport activities.
The green panel, however, said projects in green areas should not be constructed in a "casual" manner and held that "the stadia and such huge projects preferably should not be constructed in such areas".
A bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, noted that the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has raised unauthorised construction by felling trees on the forest land and directed it to pay Rs one crore for rehabilitation and restoration of the area.
Disposing of a bunch of petitions, the bench declined relief to the petitioner seeking demolition of the Siri Fort Sports Complex, including the stadia and different facilities.
"We restrain the DDA and any other authority from cutting and felling of trees or shrubs existing in any manner whatsoever in the entire area, forest and other areas surrounding the said complex," the bench said, and directed the DDA to plant 7,500 trees.
The green panel also constituted a high-powered monitoring committee under the Chairmanship of the Delhi Chief Secretary to supervise the compliance with directions and execution of the work around the project.
"The Committee shall verify the claim of the DDA that it has planted 21,000 trees in that area. Depending upon such physical verification, the Committee would issue appropriate directions for planting of such saplings of trees in the areas to be specified in addition to what has been directed in this order," the bench said.
The tribunal's judgement came following pleas of the Siri Fort Road Residents Welfare Association and others.
The petitioners alleged that in the name of the Commonwealth Games, the entire project was constructed with serious damage to environment, ecology and against the principle of sustainable development.
It was also alleged that 800 trees which were more than 100 years old have been "mindlessly" chopped despite strong resistance from the residents.