Seemai Karuvelam would be completely eradicated from Tamil Nadu in a phased manner in 10 years, the State Forest Department informed the Madras High Court on Monday.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Syed Muzammil Abbas filed the counter before the larger bench comprising Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari, Justice N Sathish Kumar and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy that was hearing a batch of writ and contempt petitions related to the eradication of the invasive, exotic species.
“An action plan is drawn to address the problem of prosopis juliflora within Tamil Nadu, which transpires into a 10-year phased removal with five years of maintenance subsequent to the year of removal,” the head of Forest Department submitted.
During the 10-year period, removing the plant would be given priority. The subsequent five years would be spent on eradicating its seed bank in the surface soil and to ensure uprooting of seedlings that may spring up.
“Initially, 200 hectares have been selected by the Forest Department in areas such as Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve and Dharmapuri to carry out the pilot project of removing Seemai Karuvelam,” it added.
Invaded sites of watershed importance, such as riverine tracts, streamsides, swamps and catchments important for wildlife or downstream communities would be the first priority and will be removed within three to four years. Subsequently, from the fourth to seventh year, the removal of juliflora would be done in other areas. From the eighth to tenth year, coastal areas will be covered,” submitted Additional Advocate General (AAG) J Ravindran.
The government informed the bench that Rs 5.35 crore has been allocated to remove Karuvelam from 700 hectares as a pilot project.
Recording the submissions, the judges questioned the government when it would release the final policy on the removal of the invasive species. The AAG responded that the public hearing to finalise the policy was over and assured that the final policy would be made available within eight weeks.
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