HC intervenes to check tree felling
The High Court on Friday directed the State government to file objections in connection with the indiscriminate felling of trees in the City.
Hearing a suo motu petition, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice A S Bopanna directed the State to file objections within two weeks and has appointed Advocate Vaishali Hegde as amicus curie to assist the court.
Following media reports, Justice Kumar had on November 6, 2010 written to the authorities about felling trees for road widening and had expressed concern over the disappearing greenery despite various regulations.
Justice Shylendra Kumar had suspected the existence of a tree mafia in operation, controlling the authorities to ensure chopping of trees to help industries dependent on supply of timber and wood products. In his letter, the judge had stated that the traffic congestion in the City is not due to the narrow roads, but due to lack of proper planning, particularly to regulate traffic.
Stating that the administrators have failed to protect trees which are over 100 years old, the Court has said the matter should be examined by the High Court as a PIL.
The petition says that BBMP has violated provisions under Forest Act 1927, Karnataka Forest Act 1963, Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act 1976, Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 and Environment (Protection) Act 1986.
Stating that there is no justification for the proposition that the felling will ease traffic flow, the Court has stated that the orders passed by Deputy Director, forest and tree officer, Commissioner of Police and Department of Town Planning are illegal and blatantly an arbitrary exercise of power.
The petition also stated that any order by tree officer to felling amounts to the violation of Article 14 and termed it as ultra vires (beyond their powers). The court has termed the notification issued by Department of Town planning to fell tree as prima facie illegal and has sought as an interim prayer to defer the felling until the court is satisfied to the legality of the ongoing road widening project.
It has also sought directions to constitute a Metropolitan Planning Committee and an order to replant trees in necessary proportions so as to maintain the standard as stipulated under Section 7 (c) of Karnataka Tree Preservation Act 1976. The petition has also sought to set up a tree court to assist tree officer to ensure proper decision on urban forestry.
Endosulfan ban challenged
The Endosulfan Manufacturers' and Formulators' Welfare Association (EMFWA), on Friday filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court challenging the ban imposed by the State government on the use of the pesticide.
The petition sought a direction to the State government to not to withdraw production and sale of Endosulfan in the State.
EMFWA contended that the decision was "arbitrary and motivated" and said there was no link between use of Endosulfan and allegations of health hazards. There was no scientific evidence on it, the association asserted. The State government banned the use of Endosulfan with immediate effect on Thursday citing health hazards.