New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed concern over the cutting of trees, at times of heritage trees, to pave way for the construction of infrastructure projects resulting in the loss of oxygen released by the trees.
“When you cut a heritage tree, imagine the value of the oxygen the tree produced all these years. Compare it to how much you would have to pay for the equivalent amount of oxygen tree produced if you have to buy it from somewhere else,” said CJI S.A. Bobde heading a three-judge bench also comprising Justice B.R.Gavai and Justice Surya Kant.
Having expressed concern over the loss of oxygen produced by the trees that were cut or proposed to be cut, CJI Bobde set up a four-member committee that would explore the alternatives to the construction of five ROB in Kolkata city which would involve the cutting of over 400 tress, including 80 heritage tress about 70 to 80 years old.
The court has given the committee four weeks time to submit its report.
CJI Bobde said that the population explosion has led to need for more and more infrastructure at the cost of green cover in the country and pointed to tree-falling in Aarey forest area in Mumbai for the construction of shed for Mumbai Metro.
Describing as “fraud” that the project proponents’ would plant five times of the trees that would be cut, CJI Bobde said, “Our experience is that at the end three survives and sometimes it is a fraud of planting trees.”
CJI Bobde took dim view of the survival record of the trees planted by project agencies to compensate for the trees that are cut in the execution of projects as senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the West Bengal government, said that they would plant five times of the three that would be cut.
Mr Singhvi said that the proposed road over bridge and the expansion of highways was necessitated because of the loss of nearly 700 human lives in road accidents in these areas.
He assured the court that project proponents — a state government agency would try to minimise the loss of tree on account of the project.
As Mr Singhvi said that ministry of environment and forest which is the custodian of the trees too was with them, CJI Bobde in a loaded observation said that we know the kind of permission MoEF gives and referred to the permission to cut over 4000 trees for the construction of Nagpur-Jabalpur Highway....