THE INDORE bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on Friday allowed felling of trees for construction of roads with certain judicial conditions.
The division bench of Justice S K Kulshreshtha and Justice S K Seth issued the order in response to a writ petition filed by Society for Nature Education and Habitats, which said that the road widening and road development was possible without felling trees and therefore tree felling should be prevented to conserve environment.
During earlier hearing on the writ, the division bench of Justice S K Kulshreshtha and Justice N K Mody in an interim order on August 11, 2006, had stayed the tree felling and said that any agency wishing to axe trees should obtain permission from High Court. As a result, three agencies put up applications to fell trees.
National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) had sought permission to fell 16,474 trees to develop the 77.61-km long four-lane Indore-Khalghat Road.
Responding to this plea, the court said that they could axe the trees, but they would be required to plant twice as many saplings of indigenous variety. The court also directed NHAI to appoint officials to ensure that double the number of saplings are planted and preserved. Incidentally, Union Environment and Forest Ministry granted environment clearance to the proposed project on November 17, 2006.
MP Housing Board, which applied for axing of seven trees for construction of casualty ward on MY Hospital premises, too, was granted permission with similar conditions. To Indore Municipal Corporation’s plea for cutting 2,458 trees for upgrade of four City roads, HC granted residents liberty to approach the Tree Officer (Indore Municipal Commissioner) within seven days with their representation while Tree Officer has been directed to dispose of their applications within three weeks.
However, the stay on felling trees for City road development would continue till a week after he decides on the applications. The applicants can approach the HC in case they were not satisfied with Tree Officer’s decision.
The four roads for which IMC sought permission include Maharana Pratap Statue - Phuti Kothi Road (856 trees), Ramchandra Nagar - Mahesh Guard Lines (1,217 trees), Mahesh Guard Lines – Sanver Road (127 trees), and Rajkumar Bridge – Industry House (258 trees).Senior advocate A K Chitale appeared on behalf of the Society while advocate Anand Agrawal pleaded for IMC.