The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned why trees should be felled for the widening of roads, as keeping the roads zig-zag would reduce the speed of vehicles and prevent accidents.

“Why do roads have to be laid in a straight line by cutting trees? Keep roads zigzag. It will reduce speed, lessen accidents on roads and save many lives,” a report quoted the bench presided over by Chief Justice S A Bobde.

The court was hearing a plea filed by the Uttar Pradesh government for felling 2,940 trees for the Krishna Goverdhan road project in Mathura.

Also read: Meghalaya: Rampant tree felling in West Garo Hills for highway widening

The court asked the state government to consider the amount of oxygen that trees produce during their lifetime before felling them.

The public works department (PWD) had assured that it will compensate for the felling of trees by planting the same number in another area so as to maintain the ecological balance.

However, the court said that there cannot be satisfactory compensatory reforestation if a 100-year-old tree is cut down.

The court refused to accept compensation in arithmetical terms as the Uttar Pradesh government and the PWD could neither classify the nature of the trees as big trees or shrubs, nor provide their age.

The court also directed them to adopt a method for evaluating the capacity of the trees to produce oxygen over their remaining life span, assuming they may be felled.

Acting as amicus, advocate A D N Rao said that trees can be evaluated through the method of net present value (NPV).

The court deferred the case for consideration by four weeks.

It directed the state government to respond within two weeks after ascertaining the number of trees to be felled along with their net present value.

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