The Supreme Court on Wednesday did not completely agree to an Uttar Pradesh government request to fell 2,940 trees for the Krishna Goverdhan road project in Mathura, saying “you cannot fell thousands of trees in the name of Krishna”.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde said the only likely inconvenience in retaining these trees would be that the road may not travel straight to host high-speed traffic.
“Such an effect may not necessary be deleterious particularly since high speed on the highways is known to cause serious accidents and cause of innumerable deaths on Indian roads,” the court pointed out.
The Bench did not quite accept the Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department and U.P. Bridge Corporation’s assurances to “compensate” the loss of these trees with planting the same type of trees in another area.
The court said the value of trees marked for felling cannot be compensated in mere “arithmetical terms”.
The court said planting a sapling somewhere is no effective compensation for the loss of a 100-year-old tree. It said a sapling in the place of a century-old tree cannot be even seen as effective re-afforestation.
The court said the State was not forthcoming about the classification of the trees marked for felling or their age.
Chief Justice Bobde noted that the State was not in a position to “make a statement as to how the Forest Department of Uttar Pradesh intends to evaluate the trees in question”.