The Supreme Court on Wednesday told the Uttar Pradesh government that it cannot cut down nearly 3,000 trees for a project to widen roads in Mathura city, Live Law reported.
The UP government’s Krishna-Govardhan road project seeks to widen a road leading to a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Krishna in Mathura. The site is believed to be the deity’s birthplace. The state government had sought the Supreme Court’s permission to cut 2,940 trees for the project.
“You can’t fell thousands of trees in the name of Krishna,” Chief Justice of India SA Bobde told the state government’s counsel.
The lawyer, on the other hand, said that the government will provide adequate compensation for the loss of trees to the forest department and plant more saplings. The government had promised to pay Rs 138.41 crore as compensation, NDTV reported.
Bobde noted that the value of a tree cannot be estimated based only on the timber that it provides. “Living trees give oxygen,” the chief justice said. “That should be considered in valuation. Oxygen producing capacity of the tree must be evaluated over its remaining life span.”
The chief justice also said that the trees will help reduce the speed of traffic and prevent accidents. “Why can’t the road take a turn around the tree?” he asked. “That will only mean that speed will be slow. If the speed is slow, it will lower accidents and will be safer.” The Supreme Court also suggested the government build roads in a zig-zag way instead of cutting the trees, which it said would lower the speed of vehicles.
The court listed the case for hearing after four weeks and directed the government to submit a report about the trees it was planning to cut.