Let roads zigzag, avoid accidents: Indian Supreme Court
The topic of narrow, congested, ziz-zagging roads is a matter of fascination for Indians. Auto forums like this post (link), routinely debate the existence of a few straight roads in India.
A recent Supreme Court seems to concur with the popular opinion, and goes a bit further by wondering if retaining trees and pathways, zig-zagging roads would reduce the speed of vehicles and eventually minimize accidents and save lives.
Quoting a recent hearing in the Supreme Court, Dhananjay Mahapatra, Associate Editor with Times of India tweeted
UP PWD had filed an application in 2017 for cutting down 2,940 trees for the project and Central Empowered Committee had given clearance. SC asks UP to evaluate value of trees taking into account the cost of oxygen, that the trees would have given to nature in their life time.— Dhananjay Mahapatra (@toi_dhananjayM) December 2, 2020
The observation came during hearing of a plea by the Uttar Pradesh government to fell 2,940 trees for the Krishna Govardhan Road project in Mathura. The Chief Justice asked the state government to look at the value of trees in terms of oxygen supply they will provide in their lifetime, and then evaluate their importance.
"Clearly they (UP government) cannot do so in terms of the timber but must adopt a method of evaluation which takes into account the oxygen producing capacity of a particular tree over its remaining life span, assuming that it may be cut now," said the top court.
The top court observed that though the Public Works Department had assured that it would compensate by planting similar number of trees in another area, felling of 90- year-old tree and then replacing it with a week-old sapling did not make sense.
"It is obvious that there cannot be compensatory reforestation if a 90- or 100-year-old tree is cut down," the court remarked. "It is not possible for us to accept compensation in merely arithmetical terms, especially when there is no statement forthcoming from the Uttar Pradesh government or the PWD as to the nature of trees -- whether they are classified as shrubs or large trees," the bench said, citing absence of information or record in connection with the age of the trees proposed to be chopped.
The bench added
"The UP government is to ascertain the total number of trees to be felled for building roads. It is clear that only effect, if the trees are retained, would be roads may not be straight and therefore incapable of high speed traffic. Such an affect may not be necessarily deleterious.".
The court posted the matter for consideration after four weeks.
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