Karnataka High Court stays ban on cultivation of eucalyptus

Ban imposed in February 2017 as eucalyptus plantations found to be one of the reasons for falling groundwater table

The High Court of Karnataka has stayed the State government’s February 23, 2017 order banning fresh cultivation and planting of species of eucalyptus on the reason that high intensity and number of eucalyptus plantations is one of the many causes for the falling level of the groundwater table.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice B.M. Shyam Prasad passed the interim order on January 29 on a petition, filed in 2017 by T.M. Narayana Swamy and three others from Kolar district who are engaged in cultivation of eucalyptus trees for more than two decades and supplying the wood to various industries.

Earlier, government counsel told the court that the ban on new cultivation of eucalyptus was imposed after thorough deliberation taking into consideration observations made in several studies conducted by experts in different parts of India, including in Karnataka, and foreign countries as well as the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

‘Widespread misunderstanding’

The petitioners claimed that there has been widespread misunderstanding, misconception, and misinformation on eucalyptus and its impact on environment. They contended that “a number of studies from renowned experts and international institutions largely find that eucalyptus is not a water intensive species and has no adverse impact on environment as such.”

They have also questioned the constitutional validity of Section 27AA of the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976, in January 2017 empowering the State government to regulate planting, propagating or cultivating any tree species that is detrimental to environment or groundwater availability.

“There is common perception that eucalyptus is responsible for groundwater depletion. The same has no scientific basis... Eucalyptus trees use water more efficiently than other specifies and do not dry out deep aquifers as it is a plant with surface roots,” the petitioners claimed while contending that the NGT had said that there “cannot be a complete ban on eucalyptus” in the case of Punjab but there can be regulations and restrictions.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 7:30:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-high-court-stays-ban-on-cultivation-of-eucalyptus/article26132966.ece

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