Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

Delhi Preservation of Trees Act (DPTA), 1994


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: DPTA, 1994; Definition of tree and tree felling.

Why in the News?

The Supreme Court and the Delhi government are at loggerheads due to alleged felling of trees in the Asola-Bhati Wildlife Sanctuary under the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act (DPTA), 1994.

Forest Cover in Delhi: ISFR Report Findings

  • Largest Cover: According to the ‘India State of Forest Report 2021’ (ISFR) published by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), Delhi has the largest forest cover among seven major megacities, with 195 sq. km, followed by Mumbai (110.77 sq. km) and Bengaluru (89.02 sq. km).
    • Delhi’s forest cover constitutes 13.15% of its geographical area, while its tree cover spans 147 sq. km (9.91%).
  • Growth over Time: Despite extensive urban development, the city’s overall green cover (forest and tree cover) has increased from 151 sq. km (10.2%) in 2001 to 342 sq. km (23.6%) in 2021.

What is the case against the DDA?

  • The Supreme Court is hearing a contempt petition against DDA’s Vice Chairman for the felling of about 1,100 trees, in violation of the SC’s orders, for road expansion in the ridge area, which falls under the eco-sensitive zone around Asola-Bhati Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • On March 4, the DDA submitted an application to the SC seeking permission to cut trees for the construction of the Gaushala Road. The court directed the DDA to re-examine the proposal with the help of field experts.
  • An affidavit from the DDA’s Vice Chairman revealed that tree felling had already begun in February and continued for ten days. By February 26, all intended trees were cut down even before the application reached the SC. This material fact was not disclosed when the court heard the application on March 4.
  • The Bench reprimanded DDA for not providing records of the Delhi LG’s (Chairman of the DDA) February 3 visit to the site, which allegedly led to the tree felling order. The Delhi government was also reprimanded for usurping the Tree Officer’s authority in granting permission.
  • The apex court has halted the DDA’s work and directed a team from the FSI to assess the number of trees cut and the environmental damage.

Law governing Tree Protection in Delhi:

Delhi Preservation of Trees Act (DPTA), 1994 provides legal protection to trees in the national capital against actions that could harm their growth or regeneration.

  • The Act defines a tree as “a woody plant that has branches supported by a trunk or a body of at least 5cm diameter and is at least 1 metre high from the ground”.
  • Section 2 (h) of the Act defines “to fell a tree” to include severing the trunk from the roots, uprooting, bulldozing, cutting, girdling, lopping, pollarding, applying arboricides, burning, or any other damaging method.
  • Under Section 8, no tree or forest produce can be removed on any land without prior permission from the ‘Tree Officer’, even on privately owned property. The ‘Tree Officer’ must respond within 60 days after inspection.
    • Violations of this Act may result in imprisonment for up to one year, a fine up to ₹1,000, or both.
  • The Act outlines a ‘Tree Authority’ responsible for conducting tree censuses, managing nurseries, and reviewing government and private construction proposals.
  • Delhi’s Tree Transplantation Policy, 2020 mandates that 80% of identified trees slated for felling must be transplanted. However, an affidavit submitted by the government to the Delhi High Court in 2022 disclosed that only 33.33% of transplanted trees had survived.

About Asola Bhatti WLS

Situated in the southern part of Delhi and extends into Faridabad and Gurugram districts of Haryana.

  • Occupies 32.71 sq. km on the Aravalli hill range’s Southern Delhi Ridge, bordering Delhi and Haryana.
  • Forms a part of Rajasthan’s Sariska Tiger Reserve to the Delhi Ridge.
  • Classified under Northern Tropical Thorn Forests.
  • Plant Features plants with xerophytic characteristics like thorns, wax-coated and succulent leaves.
  • Characterized by the presence of the exotic Prosopis juliflora and the native Diospyros montana.
  • Home to species such as Golden Jackals, Striped-Hyenas, Indian Crested-Porcupines, Civets, Jungle Cats, various snakes, Monitor Lizards, and Mongoose.


Conclusion: The Supreme Court’s directive to enhance Delhi’s green cover is a crucial step towards mitigating the impacts of extreme heat waves and improving the city’s air quality.


[2022] “The most significant achievement of modern law in India is the constitutionalization of environmental problems by the Supreme Court.” Discuss this statement with the help of relevant case laws. 


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