A panel set up by the Tamil Nadu government to conduct a scientific study on 'Seemai Karuvelam' trees (Prosopis juliflora) today told the Madras High Court the trees have no direct impact on groundwater depletion in the state.
When the matter came up before the high court's full bench, comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, Justice MM Sundresh and Justice M Sundar, the committee in its report said the trees have "xerophytic adaptation and root system does not penetrate to great depths."
They grow well in dry regions where rainfall was less than 200 mm. If the trees were inundated/submerged in water for than six months, they die automatically, it said.
The report said that 10 year pre and post monsoon data relating to the rise and the fall of the groundwater in Tamil Nadu clearly indicates the trees have no direct impact on the depletion of groundwater.
Due to a shortage of fossil fuels, the trees have traditionally been extensively used as fuel wood, charcoal.
A large number of rural population in TN depends on the tress for their livelihood.
According to the committee, Seemai Karuvelam trees are useful plants - both to the wetland and dryland ecosystems.
These species have a positive impact on the overall ecosystem in TN, it said.
When MDMK leader Vaiko appeared for arguing the case, the bench asked him to go through the report and said it would hear the arguments after that.
It directed Santhanam, additional government pleader, for state forest department to handover the copies of the report to Vaiko.
In his petition, Meganathan prayed for restraining the authorities from drastically removing the Seemai Karuvelam trees in the state and direct the state government to constitute a committee of experts to study the alleged ill- effects of the trees and submit a report.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on November 22.
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