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Experts to study effect of karuvelam; stay to continue

The debate over the usefulness of seemai karuvelam (Prosopis Juliflorias) trees for the ecosystem is all set to end soon. The state government informed the Madras High Court that an expert committee has been formed to study the impact of seemai karuvelam trees, which are being cut indiscriminately on the belief that it absorbs as much as four litres of water to produce a kilogram of biomass.

Experts to study effect of karuvelam; stay to continue
Seemai Karuvelam seen on Cauvery banks


A full bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, Justice M Sundar and Justice M M Sundresh on recording the government submission that the expert committee would take at least three months to make a scientific study and come out with a clear picture on the efficacy of karuvelam trees, adjourned the case to June 5 for further hearing. 

The Additional Advocate General (AAG) V Ayyadurai submitted that a team of seven members under the chairmanship of Chief Conservator of Forests (Research) has been formed to go into both the negative and positive impacts of the semmai karuvelam trees on the environment, especially ground water depletion. 

The other members included Professor and Head, Department of Agro Forest, Forest and Research Institute, TNAU, Coimbatore; Head of Agronomy Department, Madras Veterinary College; Engineer-in-Chief, Water Resources, PWD; Joint Secretary, Law Department; Deputy Director (Plant Protection), Director of Agriculture; Managing Trustee, NIZHAL (NGO) and Chief Conservator of Forests (Publicity).

However, following submission by the petitioner’s counsel seeking inclusion of Dr Murugavel, Department of Humanities and Social Science, Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, Dr Susi Verghese, professor, Chemical Engineering IIT, Madras; Dr Narasimhan, Department of Botany, Madras Christian College and Dr VA Parthasarathi, Former Director of Indian Institute of Spices Research, Kozhikode, as members of the expert committee, the bench conceded to the demand and directed the AAG to include the four experts in the committee formed.

The AAG also assured the court that till the report is submitted by the expert committee, no felling of trees will be undertaken. Recording the same, the bench held that the interim order issued on April 28, restraining the cutting of karuvelam trees, will continue until further orders. 

The matter relates to a PIL moved by an advocate A Meganathan of Chennai seeking to forebear the authorities from drastically removing seemai karuvelam trees without any scientific basis that it is harmful to the environment. He had contended that indiscriminate cutting of the trees may have adverse impacts in places where many other flora and fauna co-exist along with these karuvelam trees.

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