NGT’s Groundbreaking Decision to Safeguard Chevella Banyans
Victory for the Chevella Banyans!
NGT’s Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a significant directive, mandating the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to assess the risks associated with tree cutting in Chevella. The tribunal emphasized the need for innovative solutions to balance road expansion and environmental conservation.
Tribunal’s Judgment on Chevella Banyans Petition
Reserving Judgment and Special Attention to Banyans
On November 7, 2023, the NGT’s southern bench reserved judgment on the petition by the citizen action group, Save Banyans of Chevella. The judgment underscores the importance of minimizing tree cutting, particularly focusing on the nearly 1000 rare, century-old trees in the region.
NHAI’s Failure and Lack of Alternatives
The tribunal criticized NHAI for its repeated failure, from initial assessments to recent expert committees, to explore alternatives or innovative solutions to protect the area’s trees. NHAI’s reluctance to consider realigning the road or creating bypasses for tree protection was highlighted, emphasizing the necessity of a thorough analysis of all reasonable alternatives.
Urgency for Environmental Protection
NGT’s Emphasis on Urgency and Comprehensive Analysis
Citing case laws from both Indian and international contexts, the NGT emphasized the ‘sense of urgency’ in environmental protection. The judgment urged NHAI to consider the social, economic, and environmental impacts of cutting trees. The manifold benefits of roadside trees, especially the Banyan, were outlined, accompanied by a poignant Tamil verse from the 16th-century Pandian ruler of Tenkasi.
Ministry’s Role and Timeline
MOEF’s Instructions and Timelines
The NGT has directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests to issue terms of reference for completing the EIA within four months. This underscores the commitment to a swift and comprehensive assessment of the environmental impact.
Citizen Groups’ Delight and Hope
Positive Response from Save Chevella Banyans Campaign
The Save Chevella Banyans campaign and the Nature Lovers of Hyderabad express delight at the NGT’s groundbreaking judgment. The decision injects hope into various citizen groups and individuals striving to protect trees from wanton destruction, signaling a positive shift in the fight for environmental conservation.