HC directs State to frame scheme for removing Seemai Karuvelam
- The Madras High Court on Wednesday directed the State government to frame a scheme within two weeks for eradicating Seemai Karuvelam (prosopis juliflora) trees from all districts in the State.
- Earlier, the bench asked the government the reason for not eradicating the trees from the State in a time bound manner after obtaining opinions from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and National Remote Sensing Centre.
- The Bench mentioned availability of enough material to prove that the exotic species brings down the ground water table and affects the fertility of lands where it grows.
- The judges expressed displeasure over simply cutting of trees because they regrow in no time.
- The Bench insisted on uprooting the trees in such a way that they do not regrow at the same place.
- The court mentioned that the scheme to be framed by the government, could be executed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) by involving the local residents.
- Also known as alien species, invasive species, non-indigenous species, and bioinvaders, these are species of plants or animals that are growing in a nonnative environment.
- Alien species have been moved by humans to areas outside of their native ranges.
- Once transported, they become removed from the predators, parasites, and diseases that kept them in balance in their native environments.
- As a result of the loss of these controls, they often become pests in the areas into which they are introduced.
About Seemai Karuvelam
- Seemai Karuvelam, or prosopis juliflora tree is a species native to West Africa and was introduced in India by the Britishers to meet the increasing need for charcoal.
- They grow well in dry regions where rainfall was less than 200 mm.
- The tree was brought to Tamil Nadu in the 1960s as fuelwood.
- Slowly, these seeds started drifting into dams and rivers, causing problems.
- The plant according to multiple reports, absorbs excess ground water, adding to the woes of the water- starved state.
- Several drives have been organised for the eradication of these trees from wetland and dryland ecosystems owing to its negative impacts on the water table and its ability to prevent other natural growth around it.
- Over the years studies have brought to us the positive and negative effects of this species.
- A large portion of the rural population in TN depends on the trees for their livelihood.
- The trees have traditionally been extensively used as fuel wood, charcoal.
- It is a major boon for impoverished people subsisting in those environments as it provides them with badly needed shelter, reduces erosion, improves micrometeorology, and is a source of food, feed, fuel, medicines and cosmetics.