24 Dec 2021 8:10 AM GMT
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday permitted the Karnataka Road Development Corporation (KRDCL) to fell 18 heritage trees for widening of various roads around Bangalore. A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum said that, "So far as cutting of 18 trees is concerned we are of the considered view that we are not experts on whether trees...
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday permitted the Karnataka Road Development Corporation (KRDCL) to fell 18 heritage trees for widening of various roads around Bangalore.
A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum said that, "So far as cutting of 18 trees is concerned we are of the considered view that we are not experts on whether trees can be cut or not. An Expert body GKVK has already given its opinion. As such we feel that the respondent 7 (KRDCL) shall be allowed to cut the 18 trees and start the project at once and complete in a time-bound manner so that no further delay is caused, we direct accordingly."
It added that, "So far as 18 trees are concerned the respondent shall plant the excess number of trees at the suitable places as suggested by the expert body that is GKVK. It will also assess the environmental impact of cutting these 18 trees and submit the report to respondent 7."
The report submitted by GKVK, a court-appointed body, assessed the impact of these trees and has suggested that out of the 27 trees, 9 can be translocated and only 18 trees shall be cut. Accordingly, the authority agreed to translocate nine suggested trees and to plant any number of trees in place of the cutting of 18 trees which may be suggested by the expert bodies.
Earlier, the Supreme Court of India had restrained the Karnataka Road Development Corporation (KRDCL) from felling heritage trees for widening of various roads around Bangalore, until the matter is decided by the Karnataka High Court.
Petitioner Dattatraya T Devare had approached the Supreme Court challenging an order dated September 20, by which the High Court had permitted the felling of 100 'heritage' trees. The court had accepted a detailed and exhaustive report filed by the University of Agricultural Sciences (GKVK), Bengaluru, Department of Forestry and Environmental Science. It had allowed the 7th respondent (KRDCL) to proceed ahead in the light of the report submitted by the University of Agricultural Sciences(GKVK), Bengaluru.
Senior Advocate Dhyan Chinappa appearing for KRDLC had submitted that as on date, of the 91 trees which are proposed to be felled,18 trees are left intact apart from 9 trees which are to be translocated. Moreover, it has been submitted that of a total of 7512 trees which would be affected by the project, the Expert Committee has envisaged that 3068 trees would be cut, 642 trees would be retained and 1801 trees would be translocated.
He even contended that, "There are serious difficulties in the way of changing the alignment of the road and it was in this backdrop that KRDSL even agreed to having the matter re-examined by the Expert Committee afresh. In view of the report of the EC, it has been urged that there is no merit in the grievance of the petitioners."
It was also said that because of the pendency of litigation the project has been delayed and for more than one year and two months no work has been carried out.
Accordingly, the court said, "Respondent 7 shall therefore start the project and complete the laying of the roads at the earliest and submit its status report to this court on the next date."
Metro Project Gets Go-Ahead
The High Court also permitted Bengaluru Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) to act on the expert committee report. The report recommended retention of onsite 44 trees and translocating 212 trees. However, it has found 577 trees are to be cut for laying metro lines.
The court said that, "We are not the experts to give our opinion as to whether the 577 trees are to be cut or not. We shall go by the experts' report and as such accept the recommendation of the tree committee."
"We permit respondent 5 to act in accordance with the tree committee report dated November 2, 2021 and which has been brought on record. The respondent 5 shall accordingly start the work and complete it in a time bound manner," it added.
Case Title: Dattatraya T Devare v. State Of Karnataka
Case No: WP 17841/2018