In West Bengal, a 5 railway overbridge has been sanctioned with a sum of Rs.500 crore. Those bridges will cover an area of 59 km. For the construction of the bridges, nearly 365 trees have to be cut down, and that will cost a huge loss to the environment.
The Supreme Court has appointed a committee to look into the matter while hearing the case consists of five experts namely Nishikant Mukerji (managing director, Tiger Environment Centre), Soham Pandya (secretary and executive director at the Centre of Science for Villages), Sunita Narain (director, Centre for Science and Environment), Bikash Kumar Maji (assistant chief engineer, ROB unit, West Bengal government) and Niranjita Mitra (division forest officer, North 24 Parganas).
The report was submitted to a bench of the Supreme court headed by Chief justice of India SA Bobde. The report of the committee has mentioned that the value of a tree can be calculated by multiplying its age by Rs.74,500. A tree in a year produces oxygen of 45,000 rupees and biofertilizers cost 20000 rupees in addition to other micronutrients and compost. The value of a single tree over the lifespan of a hundred years is incomparable.
If we look at the value of all the trees, it will cost nearly 2.2 billion rupees for a span of 100 years. It will cause detrimental harm not only to the environment but to the economy also, if trees in such a great amount will be fallen down.
The bench CJI Bobde and Justice AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, ” If we accept the committee’s report the government will go bankrupt. The calculation needs to be rationalised. After the rationalization, their cost can be built into the project cost.”
When we take our path towards the development of infrastructure, we forget that we have to pay huge costs on the verge of environmental protection. The committee also suggested that the government should look for alternative ways for transport such as existing railways, waterways etc. It is not advisable to plant a sapling in a place of a full-grown tree because it can never meet the number of benefits that we get from that grown tree. In place of a crown sized tree, 10 saplings should be planted; 25 saplings for a tree with a medium crown size and 50 saplings for a tree with a large crown size, are advised to fill the void.
This report has shown that we always underestimate the value of trees which are doing such a great service for us and our environment.
The apex court of India Supreme court has always been very active on the issues regarding environmental protection and degradation. The supreme court of India has passed many laws and judgements in order to protect the environment.
By Prerana Singh