Madurai: The Madras High Court has directed the Forest Department to give priority to the restoration of Shola Forests in the Western Ghats, Kodaikanal and Palani.
Justices R Sudhakar and V M Velumani in their interim order said that exotic species like wattle and eucalyptus should be eradicated as they had affected the marshes, Shola forests and Grass lands by their invastion.
"The officials should prepare a comprehensive plan to restore the Shola forest" they said on a PIL filed by M Saravanan.
Special Government Pleader M Govindan informed the court that an expert committee had been formed to study wattle and eucalyptus menace.
Principal Chief Conservator said the expert committee is to be headed by the then Chief Conservator of Forests (Research) Basavaraju and sought the court to give some more time for the committee to file its report.
The petitioner's counsel T Lajapathi Roy contended that the forest officials were hesitating to annihilate the eucalyptus and wattle trees by misinterpreting a Supreme Court order regarding removal of dead and wind uprooted trees.
The bench directed the government pleader as well as petitioner's counsel to submit all relevant documents including the apex court order.
The court would hear the case on a weekly basis and issue appropriate directions.
Meanwhile Sadiq Raja, counsel for an intervening petitioner, said he apprehended that the forest department officials might use the annihilated wattle and eucalyptus trees for commercial purpose.