”Delhi Could Become a Barren Desert": High Court Warns Amid Record Heatwave

Mainstream
03-Jun-2024
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In a stark warning, the Delhi High Court has expressed grave concerns about the future of the national capital in light of the recent temperature spike to an unprecedented 52.3 degrees Celsius. Justice Tushar Rao Gedela remarked, “It is not far to see the day when this city may be only a barren desert, in case the present generation continues an apathetic view on deforestation.”

This alarming temperature was recorded in Delhi’s Mungeshpur area on Wednesday, marking the highest ever in the city’s history. The court's remarks came during a hearing related to the protection of forests in Delhi. Justice Gedela emphasized the urgent need for action to prevent further environmental degradation.

“This court cannot countenance a situation where the chairperson (Justice Waziri) is unable to discharge the responsibilities on account of lack of an office space or a secretarial and support staff or even transportation,” the court stated, reflecting on the lack of infrastructure for the committee's chairperson, former judge Najmi Waziri. 

The court had previously appointed Justice Waziri to head an internal departmental committee focused on forest protection. However, it was informed that Waziri could not effectively perform his duties due to insufficient resources.

Advocate R Arunadhri Iyer, representing the committee, reported that the Delhi government had been notified of the infrastructure needs, including secretarial support and transportation, essential for the chairperson to efficiently carry out his responsibilities. The chief conservator of forests indicated that the approval process was underway, awaiting the minister's consent, the Cabinet's review, and the lieutenant governor's final approval.

The amicus curiae appointed in the case stressed the urgency, noting, “Once a judicial order was passed, the infrastructure and other facilities required for efficient administration and discharge of responsibilities by the chairperson of the committee have to be complied with at the earliest.”

The high court set a deadline for the infrastructure approval, mandating that it should not be delayed beyond June 15, and subsequent development must be completed within 15 days of approval. “Since the next date of hearing is already fixed for July 29, it is expected that all things and requirements of the chairperson and the committee shall be put in place and in full working condition, prior thereto,” the court directed.

Additionally, the court accepted the suggestion to rename the committee as the ‘Special Empowered Committee’ instead of the ‘Internal Departmental Committee’ to reflect its crucial role. It also underscored that all concerned officers must attend meetings unless there are exceptional circumstances, in which case prior intimation to the chairperson is required.

These stringent measures aim to ensure the committee fulfills its responsibilities, especially given the “worsening situation of climatic conditions in Delhi.”

The court's orders highlight the pressing need for immediate and effective actions to address deforestation and environmental conservation, emphasizing the broader implications for Delhi’s future amid escalating climate challenges.

Author: Anushka Taraniya 

News writer