Madras High Court to inspect forest areas in December to assess eradication of exotic and invasive species

Judges want exotic species such as prosopis juliflora, senna spectabilis and lantana to be replaced with native species

September 29, 2022 04:41 pm | Updated 05:09 pm IST - CHENNAI:

Invasive species Senna spectabilis (with yellow flowers) in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve. File

Invasive species Senna spectabilis (with yellow flowers) in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve. File | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Justices N. Sathish Kumar and D. Bharatha Chakravarthy of the Madras High Court on Thursday said they will do another inspection of the forest areas in the State in December this year to take stock of the progress made by the forest department in clearing the exotic and invasive species and replacing them with native species.

Justice Kumar and other judges of the High Court had carried out such inspections early this year and issued a slew of directions to the officials with respect to banning plastics in the hill stations, creating a safe passage for the elephants while crossing railway tracks, and preventing the discarding of liquor glass bottles in the forest areas.

The Court also continued to monitor the progress while dealing with a host of writ petitions pending before it. When some of the cases were listed for hearing on Thursday, the judges expressed their displeasure over the delay on the part of the government in granting permission to Tamil Nadu Newsprints and Papers Limited to remove senna spectabilis.

Pointing out that the species had been considered harmful, the judges told a Special Government Pleader to make sure that the government issues the permission at the earliest and that the proceedings be placed before the court by October 11. They also wanted the government to ensure that the forests were cleared of lantana too.

Appreciating the State government for having come up with a policy for eradication of the exotic and invasive species, the judges, in the same breath, said that the policy should not remain only on paper and instead implemented in letter and spirit. The effect of such implementation must be visible on the ground, Justice Kumar observed.

He told amicus curiae T. Mohan and M. Santhanaraman that they could plan an inspection of the forest areas sometime in December. The judge also recorded the submission of P.T. Ramkumar, standing counsel for Southern Railway, that the construction of two underpasses for elephants was underway in Coimbatore district.

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