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SC sets aside T'gana HC order declaring 106 acre of forest land as private

April 19, 2024 01:28 IST

The humans have “selective amnesia” about the significance of forests, the Supreme Court said on Thursday while advocating the need for a change in approach towards natural resources from anthropocentric to ecocentric.

IMAGE: A view of the Supreme Court of India. Photograph: ANI Photo

The court made the observations in its verdict by which it not only set aside the Telangana high court judgement declaring 106.34 acre forest land in Warangal district as private but slammed it for “graciously gifting” it to a private person who could not prove his title.


It also came down heavily on state officials for abdicating their duty to protect forest land.

A bench of justices MM Sundresh and S V N Bhatti said, “Human beings indulge themselves in selective amnesia when it comes to fathom the significance of forests. It is the forests which give life to the Earth by replacing carbon dioxide with oxygen, thereby providing a hospitable environment for the steady growth of diverse life forms.”

It said it was the “spirit of the forest” which moved the earth, and the history of humankind would to be understood “through the prism of the environment, the forest in particular.”

Despite forests providing "unblemished, selfless and motherly service", people continued to destroy them, while remaining unmindful of the fact that they were inadvertently destroying themselves, the bench said.

Underlining that protection of forests was in the interest of humans, the top court said vulnerable sections of society would be most affected by their depletion.

“There is a crying need for a change in our approach. Man being an enlightened species, is expected to act as a trustee of the Earth. He has to ensure the preservation of the ecosystem and to continuously endeavour towards the protection of air, water and land,” the Supreme Court said.

It said the time has come for humans to live sustainably and respect the rights of rivers, lakes, beaches, estuaries, ridges, trees, mountains, seas and air.

“The need of the hour is to transform from an anthropocentric approach to an ecocentric approach which will encompass a wider perspective in the interest of the environment,” the apex court said.

Underscoring the economic implications of forests, it said, “Wealth of a country has to be seen not only from the perspective of mere revenue, augmented through its industries and business activities. Rather, it has to be seen by giving due importance to its natural wealth which actually contributes much more than the other factors."

The top court said a country with excess forest cover would be in a position to sell its surplus carbon credit to the one in deficit and that “a difference of one and half degrees Celsius in temperature saves the global economy tens of trillions of dollars.”

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