On Thursday, the Supreme Court constituted a seven-member committee to develop scientific and policy guidelines to govern decision-making related to cutting trees for development projects.
A Division Bench of Hon’ble Justice SA Bobde, Hon’ble Justice AS Bopanna and Hon’ble Justice V Ramasubramanian due to climate change becoming an international and national concern.
The Court stated that the guidelines might specify trees in categories based on environmental values like trees’ circumference and age. The guidelines may provide for special treatment for eco-sensitive areas.
The decision was made in a petition against the Government of West Bengal’s decision to cut the trees, construct Road Over Bridges, and widen the roads.
Former Chairman of Wildlife Trust of India Dr MK Ranjitsinh Jhala will head the Committee, and other members are experts in the field.
Hon’ble Court-appointed Advocate K Parmeshwar as Amicus Curiae.
The Court issued the following directions to the Committee:-
- Develop Scientific and policy guidelines that will govern decision making related to cutting trees for development projects.
- The guidelines may provide a classification of trees based on girth and age.
- The guidelines may make provisions for eco-sensitive and geographical areas.
- To develop a method/ guidelines to assess the instrumental and intrinsic value of trees based on the quality/value of timber and the particular relevance.
- To make rules that would govern alternate sites/routes for projects/roads and for using alternate modes of transport.
- The Committee should also prescribe a suitable mode of financial compensation and the mode for depositing such compensation regarding the Net Present Value calculation.
- The Committee should also consider if there is a need for an expert body to govern such issues.
- Any other relevant issue.