With rising concerns of climate emergency and urgent need of planting more trees to solve the problem of greenhouse gases, the Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the cutting of 452 trees for the construction of an additional track for the railway line connecting Delhi to Agra via Mathura, provided the mandatory compensatory afforestation is also undertaken.

A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and SA Nazeer also ordered member secretary of National Legal Service Authority Of India (NALSA) to deploy an officer to inspect the site to prepare a periodical report, every three months until further orders, on the condition of saplings planted as part of afforestation.

The Chief Justice observed that the saplings die as the authorities concerned do not deploy proper methodology to take care of them. “We would want a report on it every three months updating on the conditions of the saplings, whether they have died or are alive. A periodical report on the tree saplings,” said the Chief Justice.

The court also observed that the officer appointed by NALSA will have to inspect the trees planted by the Northern Railways and forest department and also examine whether the saplings are being watered and are receiving proper nourishment.

“Whether any sapling that may have died has been replaced or not, the compliance with the condition imposed above the member secretary furnish status report every three months until further orders,” said the top court.

The court also said that it has been informed of the overflowing drains in Agra, especially in the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ). The court asked the UP state government counsel who will do something about it and to inform it about what is being done.

“Give us a report on drains overflowing in Agra. There are open drains in TTZ, it is said water flows out on streets, it also resulted in breeding of mosquitoes,” noted the Chief Justice. The report should be submitted in six weeks.

Recently the Uttar Pradesh government also came under sharp criticism over the news of state government preparing to fell 63,799 trees in Lucknow along the Gomti river for the Defence Expo, to be held in February next year.