Saturday, November 2, 2013

High court rejects plea against expansion of NH-8

The Gujarat high court has held that no development is possible without some adverse effect on ecology and environment, but projects of public utility cannot be abandoned because of this. The court asserted that it is necessary to strike a balance between the two interests. 
    The court observed this while dismissing a petition filed by a group from Kheda district that complained that a small forest created by them and variety of trees cannot be chopped off for expansion of the National Highway number 8. They argued that a slight change in alignment could have saved the green patch. 
    Interestingly, these petitioners raised a contention that due to green felling, various species of birds would vanish from this area. They claimed that this forest is 
home to spotted owlet, vultures, babblers, barn owls, bulbuls, cuckoos, egrets, flower peckers, kingfishers, larks, munias, mynas, parakits and pheasants. Hence, the cutting of trees for the development project will amount to hunting of these birds, and this is prohibited. But the court did not accept this contention. 
    On the contrary, the court said that the 
expansion of the highway is a project of wide public importance, and it is not open to frustrate this project only with a view to safeguard a few trees standing on the land of the petitioners which has already acquired by the government. 
    The court rejected the petition mainly on the assurance given by the government as part of the project that it will plant more than 30,000 trees to compensate for the green felling. The authority believed that 18,056 trees would have been affected in this project due to original alignment, but of them 10,951 trees have been saved by balancing the alignment. 
    The court also asserted that the courts should not be asked to assess the environmental impact of expansion of highway but at the most could ensure that the recommendations of the experts have been abided by the government.

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