New Delhi (PTI): Compensatory re-plantation of trees to match the number of those cut is too archaic a solution to meet the environmental needs, the Supreme Court has held.
A bench comprising justices Tarun Chatterjee and Harjit Singh Bedi held that a company's promise on re-forestation or afforestation in an equivalent area cannot satisfy the needs of our ecological system as local varieties of trees are being replaced by alien and non-indigenous species.
The judgement can have serious implications on major projects, including mining by MNCs, in forest areas.
"We, however, find from experience and observation that the re-forestation or afforestation that is being carried out in India does not meet the fundamentals and the planting of new trees to match the numbers removed is too simplistic and archaic a solution.
"In the guise of compensatory replantation, local varieties of trees are being replaced by alien and non-indigenous but fast growing varieties such as popular and eucalyptus which make up the numbers but cannot satisfy the needs of our environmental system," the court said.
"It must be borne in mind that both re-forestation and afforestation envisage a resurrection and re-plantation of trees and other flora similar to those which have been removed and which are suitable to the area in question," Justice Bedi observed in a judgement.
"A small but significant example is the destruction of plantations alongside the arterial roads in India. Thirty years ago all arterial roads had huge peripheral forest cover which not only provided shade and shelter to the traveller but were a haven to a large variety and number of birds and other wild life peculiar to that area," it added.