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New Delhi: The Union government on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it has no objection to the inclusion of independent experts in the committee to examine the environmental impact of deforestation due to the Delhi-Dehradun Expressway.

The Centre’s response came on concerns that the committee for the Delhi-Dehradun Expressway had only government employees and that issues related to the ecological cost in the project should go to a committee that also has independent members. Earlier, the Center had said that not trusting an officer just because he is a government official is not the right way. However, the court had asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to bring directions from the Center on the issue.

NGO Bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Aniruddha Bose Citizen for Green Doon It was hearing a petition filed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) challenging the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which had upheld the validity of the forest clearance granted to the Delhi-Dehradun Expressway. The NGO raised concerns about diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes and cutting of trees, which would have a major ecological impact.

When the matter reached the NGT, it upheld the approval given to the project, following which the aggrieved NGO approached the apex court. The court had earlier said that all such issues can be placed before the committee constituted by the NGT but the NGO said that it consists only of state officials and should also have independent members for impartial consideration.

During the hearing on Monday, AG KK Venugopal submitted that cattle underpasses are being built, 6 meters height underpasses are being made for elephants and with such a wholly independent body, wouldn’t it appear that the court is in favor of the government? Does not trust all members. The top court suggested three names for independent members and directed the Attorney General to look into those names and respond by next Tuesday. The matter will be heard again on April 19.

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