New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern over rapidly depleting green cover and the rising temperature as it emphasised on the alternatives to execute infrastructure projects instead of cutting trees.
“Deforestation is happening at such a pace that even before we come to know about it, everything will be lost. The green cover needs to be valued and protected. The problem we are facing is that nobody wants to consider an alternative,” a bench headed by
Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said.
The bench, which also comprised Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant, favoured involving an economist along with an environment expert to assess the cost of a project by factoring in the value of a tree and the oxygen it emits.
The court said that the assessment of the cost of a project has to be a “scientific exercise” taking into account all the factors that would go including the cutting of the trees in executing a project.
The observation came while the bench was hearing a plea filed by Association for Protection of Democratic Rights objecting to the construction of five Road Overbridges (ROBs), which required cutting of over 400 trees, including 80 heritage trees that are around 70 to 80-years-old.
The top court in the last hearing of the matter on January 9, 2020, had set-up a four-member committee comprising Prof N.K. Mukherjee, Prof Soham Pandya Secretary of Wardha based Centre of Science for Villages, a representative each of the petitioner Association for Protection of Democratic Rights and that of West Bengal Government, to explore the alternatives to the construction of five ROBs in Kolkata.
The committee has since submitted its report to the court and a copy of the same would be made available to the petitioner Association for Protection of Democratic Rights.
In the last hearing, Justice Bobde had expressed concern over the cutting of the 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.
While expressing concern over cutting of trees, it had observed, "When we cut a heritage tree, imagine the value of the oxygen the tree produced all these years".