HC steps in to save trees translocated for metro

Karnataka HC steps in to save trees translocated for Bengaluru metro

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The High Court of Karnataka on Thursday asked the state government whether a third agency can be appointed to suggest ways to save the trees already translocated for Metro rail project.

The court sought a response from the government and Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) on appointing the third agency and also to ensure that the remaining 59 trees survive after translocation.

Continuing the hearing into the PIL filed by Dattareya T Devare and another, the division bench of Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy directed the BMRCL to disclose the total number of trees felled.

The counsel representing the petitioner alleged that the BMRCL acted in haste and felled trees indiscriminately during the night of June 8 and 9 in spite of intimating on the night of June 7 about the petition coming up for hearing on June 10.

"We know Metro is very useful. We don't appreciate both the state and its agency BMRCL removing trees indiscriminately overnight when the matter is pending before the court. Both should be straight forward in their action,’’ the bench stated.

The court observed that the expert committee has not applied its mind to the question of whether trees would survive at the place where it has been translocated.

"Our consciousness should be satisfied that the experts have done their job. But, experts did not apply their mind before giving a nod to cut the trees. Therefore, we will appoint a third agency. Both the state and BMRCL should be fair to appoint a third agency.’’

The bench also stated that the expert committee has not placed any material on the assessment made on the revival of translocated trees despite observations made by the bench in the last hearing.

Meanwhile, it was submitted that of the remaining 59 trees, the experts have suggested that 55 trees will have to be cut, while four trees can be translocated.

The counsel appearing for the government submitted that the members of the expert committee had bonafide credentials and trees were cut only after the identification of trees by the committee.

The bench stated that it was only concerned about the manner in which the committee examined the process of translocation. The bench asked the government advocate to get instructions from the government on revamping the existing expert committee.