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| Last Updated:23/03/2020

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Karnataka High Court raps authority for delay in tree census


Rapping the tree authority for not commencing tree census in the city despite its order, the high court on Tuesday warned its members of contempt proceedings.

A division bench led by Chief Justice Abhay S Oka expressed unhappiness over the authority’s non-compliance with its earlier order.

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Bangalore Environment Trust (BET) and Dattatreya T Devare, alleging that hundreds of trees are axed in Bengaluru for various infrastructural works, including the metro. 

In August 2019, the court had directed the authority to take up tree census. However, till date, there is no sign of commencement of the census.

The bench said, “It has been 44 years since the enactment of the Tree Preservation Act, which calls for a mandatory census of trees. The high court too had in August 2019 directed the authority to take up the exercise. However, till date, not a single tree has been counted. 

“Further, the chairperson of the authority, who appeared in the court, has also failed to assure about the commencement of the census from tomorrow. The court does not have any other option than to initiate contempt proceedings against the members of the authority,” the bench said.

Directing the respondents to submit a list of members of the tree authority appointed since August 2019 in a week, the bench said subsequently, it would consider initiating contempt proceedings against the members.

The matter was posted to March 4. 

Metro work delayed

Meanwhile, advocates appearing for the BMRCL apprised the court of a stay over axing of trees and the subsequent delay in execution of a public work due to the order.

On January 27, the court issued a stay over cutting of trees for a metro work, even though the BMRCL argued that the experts had recommended it.

The BMRCL requested to vacate the stay order stating that due to the order, there has been inordinate delay in execution of the work, and the costs have escalated by Rs 52 crore.

Taking notice of this, the bench directed the authorities to submit the recommendations of the tree experts, besides filing an affidavit to amend the interim order.