Report in 4 weeks, SC tells panel set up in March to assess valuation of trees

Updated on Dec 09, 2021 11:16 AM IST

A committee of experts, set up in March, to come up with a formula to assess the value of trees has been told by the Supreme Court to submit its report within the next four weeks, its original deadline eight months ago

The Supreme Court (SC) direction came on a complaint by the Centre that the committee tasked to come up guidelines for valuation of trees, which was mandated to submit its report within four weeks, hasn’t submitted its report in eight months (Vipin Kumar/HT File Photo)
The Supreme Court (SC) direction came on a complaint by the Centre that the committee tasked to come up guidelines for valuation of trees, which was mandated to submit its report within four weeks, hasn’t submitted its report in eight months (Vipin Kumar/HT File Photo)
ByAbraham Thomas

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has directed a committee set up in March to assess the valuation of trees required to be felled for construction of development projects to submit its report in four weeks. The committee was formed on March 25 and was required to submit its report within a month.

With the report still awaited eight months later, the Centre represented by solicitor general Tushar Mehta urged the top court on Wednesday to call for the report as several state and central projects remained stalled for this reason.

“Finding out a methodology for valuation of trees cannot go on for months together. By the very nature of work they are supposed to do, nine months is a pretty long time. We want a direction to expedite the report. Based on this recommendation, project proponents have to make payment,” Mehta said. He was appearing for Rail Vikas Nigam Limited in the MC Mehta case dealing with tree felling in relation to construction activities around the iconic Taj Mahal.

Additional solicitor general (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati representing the Uttar Pradesh government also made a similar request citing a long list of state government projects held up due to payment of compensatory afforestation charges to be determined by the committee.

The bench of justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna said, “The committee shall submit its report in four weeks. List the matters in January.” The court also sought a list of public projects pending on account of the report by the tree valuation committee. ASG Bhati agreed to compile the list.

This committee, which has seven experts, is headed by wildlife expert MK Ranjitsinh and has a joint secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) as its member secretary. The task of the committee was to fix the value of trees taking into account the intrinsic and instrumental value of trees based not on their timber worth but their age, girth and environmental contribution.

Also Read: 1.20 crore fine imposed on tribal man for cutting 2 trees in MP’s Raisen

The other members of the committee are Arun Singh Rawat, director-general, Indian Council for Forestry Research, Sandeep Tambe, Professor of Forestry at the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal, Gopal Singh Rawat, former dean and director, Wildlife Institute of India, Nilanjan Ghosh, director, Observer Research Foundation, Kolkata, and an expert in ecological economics, and environmentalist Pradeep Krishen.

Besides the valuation of trees, the committee was also required to lay down rules mandating the project proponents to study alternate routes of transport such as railways or waterways instead of felling of trees to construct road projects.

Photos: Delhi’s iconic trees in the wake of SC’s report on “valuation of trees”

The order constituting the committee was passed while considering a petition filed by the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights that opposed the felling of old trees, some aged over 150 trees, for construction of five road-over-bridges (ROB) as part of a road-widening project of the West Bengal government.

The court sought the opinion of a group of experts on valuing ornamental trees who suggested that a tree’s worth could be calculated by setting a multiplier of 74,500 to the age of the tree. A heritage tree with a lifespan of over 100 years could even be worth over 1 crore, it submitted in a report given to Court. The matter is related to the chopping of over 300 trees.

Also Read: What’s the value of a tree? Age multiplied by 74.5k: SC panel

In its March 25 order, the bench said: “The guidelines shall prescribe a mechanism for assessment of both intrinsic and instrumental value of the trees, based not only on the value of timber, but also the ecosystem services rendered by the trees and its special relevance, if any, to the habitat of other living organisms, soil, flowing and underground water.”

Get Latest India Newsalong with Latest Newsand Top Headlinesfrom India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, December 08, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals