Madurai, Oct 28: The Madras High Court today suggested that Tamil Nadu government study proposals made by MDMK leader Vaiko to remove 'Seemai Karuvelam' trees (Prosopis) and other harmful weeds, which were harming the ecosystem and file a report by the end of January 2016.
Justices R Sudhakar and V M Velumani, hearing a PIL filed by Vaiko to destroy karuvelam trees, said government should study the feasibility and possibility of implementing the suggestions of the MDMK leader and submit a report.
They asked the government to file a report by the fourth week of January next year. The judges pointed out that there are campaigns to eradicate dengue fever and malaria. Similar campaigns could be launched to destroy these trees that harm the ecosystem.
Vaiko submitted that there is an erroneous understanding that these trees are useful for society and it was a source of livelihood. Such a notion should be removed from the minds of the people. He suggested that the Agriculture and Horticulture departments be used to identify trees that harm the ecosystem and destroy them.
The state could ask them to develop an evironmental-friendly mechanism to eradicate the trees. Rural people could be involved in the eradication of trees under Rural employment programmes, he said.
"The country can involve United Nations Development Programme scheme in the eradication programme as UNESCO has declared Western Ghats a world heritage site. Eradication can be done under natural resource management programme of PWD," he said.
The Principal Secretary, Environment and Forests, said it would cost Rs 1,389 crore to remove Karuvelam trees in 3.38 lakh hectares of land belonging to PWD and rural development departments. They would take two and three years respectively to remove them.
They sought the court's permission for the eradication work as and when the funds are available to them as well as physical feasibility. The Secretary said 'Acacia nilotica' trees have to be removed in 55,900 hectares of forest lands. But those trees could be sold and the cost could be recovered. It would take 10 years to remove them from forest lands in view of accessibility problems, he said.