SC to examine validity of K’taka Tree Act

SC to examine validity of K’taka Tree Act

Supreme Court

“Why should trees be cut at all? Why do you want to cut the trees,” the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Karnataka government, which questioned a direction by the National Green Tribunal to plant at least 10 trees before felling one in forest area or even on private land in the state.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer put the posers to the state government led by senior advocate Basava Prabhu Patil and advocate V N Raghupathy as they contended the green tribunal’s direction went against the state statute.

The Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976 mandates planting of only two trees in case of felling of one tree, the counsel said. The court, however, said it would examine the validity of this law vis-e-vis statutes in other states. The bench appointed former Karnataka High Court judge and senior advocate A N Venugopal Gowda as amicus curiae to assist the court.

The top court had on January 10 stayed the green tribunal’s order passed on an application by Cauvery Sene (Regd), Madikeri on March 14, 2017.

Karnataka had claimed the order was coming in the way of the state government implementing development projects and there was practical difficulty as well in complying with the directions.

He also pointed out that the review plea was filed by the state before the green panel and that too stood dismissed.

The principal bench of the green panel headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar (since retired) directed that all persons felling or cutting trees in the forest area or even on the private land are prohibited from cutting the trees unless and until they plant before cutting, 10 trees for each tree cut or felled from and/or proposed to be felled or cut.

Further, those who are cutting or propose to cut trees were directed to deposit sufficient money with the forest department to ensure that the trees are duly cared for and due protection provided to them at least for a period of five years from the day of planting.