In the name of Lord Krishna, the UP Govt can not cut down nearly 3,000 trees, the Apex Court said in an observation that should bring cheer to environmental activists around the country.
"You can't fell thousands of trees in the name of Lord Krishna," CJI SA Bobde told the Public Works Department counsel for Uttar Pradesh Govt. The state had sought permission to drop 2,940 trees to widen roads across a 25-km stretch leading to a temple of Lord Krishna in the district of Mathura, and said it would pay compensation of ~ 138.41 crore.
The state also said that more trees would be planted than removed, but the court was unimpressed, pointing out that it was not the same as felling a 100-year-old tree to plant a fresh sapling. "Living trees give oxygen & it cannot be evaluated simply on the basis of their value. The oxygen-producing capacity of the trees must be evaluated over its remaining life span," a 3-Member Bench comprising CJI SA Bobde, & Justice AS Bopanna & Justice V Ramasubramanian, said. The Court also gave four weeks for another assessment to be carried out by the UP Govt. "We want an accurate report from the state", it said, while adding, "If the speed is slow, it will lower accidents & will be more safer". The Court observed, "The only effect that is likely if the trees are retained would be roads which may not be straight & therefore capable of high-speed traffic. Such an effect may not necessarily be deleterious since high-speeds on highways are known to cause accidents".