The Delhi High Court on 16 March 2017 asked the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to audit the forest department and other agencies on the aspects of how much timber and money are generated from the felling of trees in the city.
The direction was issued by a two-judge bench of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ashutosh Kumar. The direction was issued by the court while hearing a PIL initiated by the court on the issue of air pollution and its causes.
In its reply on the plea, the Delhi Government informed the court that some timber is auctioned off and some are provided free of cost to crematoriums. In response to which, the court said that it wants to know what happens to the funds that are received by auctioning the timbers and the quantity of timber that is provided to the crematoriums. It also observed that the bereaved families are made to pay for the wood at crematoriums.
Highlights of the observation of the High Court
• The court said that it wanted to know how the timber from felled trees and the money charged for permission to cut them were being utilised.
• The bench observed that the trail of timber and the trail of money has to be checked.
• In its observation, the court said that what concerns is that whether each and every tree felled is accounted for in terms of money and timber and whether compensatory afforestation is taking place.
Besides, the court also directed the Delhi government to increase the green cover in the national capital to the desired objective of 25 per cent. It also said that not only the existing forests should be preserved and maintained, but areas under encroachment should be reclaimed. It said that the trees in non-forest areas should be replenished if cut and further plantation of trees under compensatory afforestation scheme be undertaken.
Who will fall under the bracket of the audit by CAG?
CAG will be auditing the case in aspects of the forest department of the Delhi Government and other agencies including the three municipal corporations, the New Delhi Municipal Council, the Public Works Department, Delhi Metro, the Cantonment Board and Northern Railway.
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