The National Green Tribunal on Monday ordered that no trees should be cut down for the development of colonies in South Delhi till July 19, PTI reported. The tribunal issued notices to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Central Pollution Control Board, and the Central Public Works Department.

The tribunal also asked for the exact number of trees that are proposed to be felled. The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by the the nonprofit Society for Protection of Culture, Heritage, Environment, Traditions and Promotion of National Awareness. The plea had sought a stay on the proposed felling of nearly 16,500 trees.

The Centre gave environmental clearance to the colony development project without taking into account possible adverse effects, the petition claimed. Trees in Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar, Netaji Nagar, Thyagraj Nagar, Mohammadpur and Kasturba Nagar and Srinivaspuri are proposed to be axed. Nearly 1,500 trees have already been cut down, according to media reports.

Planting saplings somewhere else – as proposed by Union Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri – will not reduce the burden put on the environment due to the large-scale deforestation, the plea said.

On June 25, state-owned construction company NBCC told the Delhi High Court during a hearing in another plea that it would not cut trees till July 4. NBCC (India) Ltd, formerly called the National Buildings Construction Corporation, has been tasked with developing three of the seven colonies.