The Karnataka High Court on Thursday asked the State government and the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRCL) to suggest an expert agency of repute to examine the issue of saving translocated trees, and whether the remaining 59 trees to be uprooted for the ongoing metro project can be successfully translocated to ensure that they survive and grow.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy passed the order after observing that prima facie the expert committee, appointed on the orders of the court, has not applied its mind on whether trees would survive at the locations where they are transplanted.
The Bench was hearing a PIL petition filed by Dattatraya T. Devare and the Bangalore Environment Trust.
As 55 more trees will have to be uprooted for translocation and four trees have to be cut for the project, the Bench said that an expert agency will have to assess the translocation aspect as the exiting committee had not applied its mind before granting approval for uprooting of trees for translocation. The Bench also noted that the committee has not placed any material on assessment made in this regard despite earlier observations made by the court on this aspect.
“The object of the provision of the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976 is to preserve trees. If permission can be lawfully granted to cut or translocate the trees, the authorities must apply how translocation can be done as translocation is a method to preserve a tree,” the Bench observed after noticing that a few trees translocated some time ago had dried.
Earlier, the advocate for the petitioners alleged that the BMRCL had cut trees between June 7 and 9 with alacrity after being intimated that court will hear the petition on June 10.
However, senior advocate for the BMRCL contended that the petitioners had only raised objection to trees to be cut for road project and hence the BMRCL went ahead with the felling after waiting 15 days as per the earlier court’s order. About 37 trees were cut on June 8 and four trees were cut on June 9, and the cutting stopped on June 9.
Following this, the Bench asked the BMRCL to submit details of trees felled after receiving intimation and whether trees were cut in the night.
When the government counsel said that identified trees will have to be removed for the project while pointing out that committee members had bona fide credentials, the Bench orally observed that it is not against legally cutting the trees but concerned about the manner in which the committee examined the aspect.