Green cover must be preserved and alternatives should be explored to develop infrastructure without cutting trees, the Supreme Court said today as it underlined the "rapid deterioration" of natural resources.
Chief Justice SA Bobde, who was heading the three-judge bench hearing a petition against cutting of trees for construction of an overbridge in Bengal, said: "People are not willing to explore alternatives. There could be a way to create a path without felling of trees. It might be a little more expensive, but it would be better."
"Green cover must be preserved," he insisted.
The top court was hearing a petition against the construction of overbridge at the West Bengal and Bangladesh border.
The Bengal government had earlier claimed that there were around 800 deaths near the railway lines in the absence of safe crossing. In January, the top court had directed the state government to set up a committee and file a report.
Today, the top court said it would want to involve economists and environmentalists to conduct a scientific study and examine the value of a tree, taking into account the value of the quantum of oxygen that the tree has given out during its lifespan.
"This is the third case of similar nature, which has been brought before us, the other two are construction of metro shed and coastal road in Mumbai....the cost involved is enormous," Chief Justice SA Bobde said.
"We would like to see if we can lay down some principles. We would like some suggestions. The deterioration is so rapid that before anybody knows many things will be permanently gone. "
Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing an NGO, had moved the court. Mr Bhushan said the environment or climate "may take a turn for the very worse in another 50 years", as it is likely temperatures will rise and cutting of trees has a role to play in it. The Chief Justice replied, "it is believable, very believable."