Supreme Court has allowed JNU to build hostels and other facilities on the south central ridge area.
University will have to plant ten times the number of trees it plans to fell.
Experts say the area is already stressed due to construction activity.
More than a year after Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) sought permission to build four hostels and academic facilities on the south central ridge area, the Supreme Court has finally given the go-ahead, albeit with some riders.
The premiere university will have to deposit five per cent of the total sanctioned project cost of Rs 107 crore, which comes to Rs 5.35 crore, with the ridge management board (RMB) to be used for conservation of the ridge.
Besides, JNU will have to plant 1,200 saplings, which is 10 times the number of trees (113) they plan to fell. The judgement was delivered by a panel headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar, and comprising Justices AK Sikri and SA Bobde recently.
It said, "The varsity will also give the cost of undertaking of plantation and its maintenance for a period of five years to the Delhi forest department. They will ensure protection of wild animals and birds in the forested JNU campus, and strengthen its boundary wall wherever found necessary."
JNU COUNSEL: DIRECTIVES BEING COMPLIED WITH
JNU counsel Ginny Rautray said, "The university is duty bound to fulfill these conditions as ordered by the Supreme Court. As far as I know, these are being complied with."
The pronouncement came after a central empowered committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court and Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar recommended approval of the project but with conditions.
It said that the 2.937 hectare sought by JNU for building its hostels Shipra II and North East, an academic building and an extension of its advanced instrumentation research facility fell under the extended south central ridge area.
EXPERTS: RIDGE ALREADY STRESSED DUE TO CONSTRUCTION
The ridge is a northern extension of the ancient Aravalli range, believed to be some 1,500 million years old, and a green lung of the already choked city. Extending for 35 kms from Tughlaqabad to Wazirabad, it aids in groundwater recharge and blocking hot winds from Rajasthan.
Experts say it is already under much stress with chunks of the forest land being privatised illegally and many governmental institutions like DELNET and AICTE coming up on it.
It is learnt that after JNU sought permission for tree felling, the Delhi forest department did a geospatial survey of the land in 2015 and declared it a notified forest ridge area.' Deputy conservator of forests (West) Rajagopal Prashant submitted this, and recommended that the case to be forwarded to the ridge management board.
The board, however, found it lying on the extended south central ridge area and gave its approval.
Sameer Sood of NGO CHETNA, who filed the case, said, "The truth is that JNU applied for this clearance only after we served it a legal notice." JNU registrar Pramod Kumar, however, denied it and said it had taken care of due procedures.
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