Unfortunately, human race loves money so much that all things precious are more important than all things priceless. To make the mankind understand the true value of nature, now the Supreme Court has put a price tag on a tree. And it is Rs 72 lakh. 

700 year old banyan tree gets saline treatment

The true value of a tree, if it has hundred years of lifespan left, would be Rs 72 lakh. The value calculated, takes into account the innumerable benefits of a tree to mankind, its surroundings and the environment. It also takes into account the cost of oxygen the tree would emit into the atmosphere, the Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday.

Following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), a bench headed by CJI SA Bobde had set up a committee to quantify the true value of a tree. The PIL challenged the West Bengal government's decision to axe 356 trees to construct five railway overbridges costing Rs 500 crore on a 59-km-stretch on National Highway NH-35. The project is part of the Centre's Setu Bharatmala programme which aims at making the national highways free of railway crossings.

Google's Global Forest Watch: Online Tool Tracks Deforestation
Google's Global Forest Watch: Online Tool Tracks DeforestationReuters

50 trees cut, 306 left

The expert committee (comprising Soham Pandya, Sunita Narain, BK Maji, Niranjita Mitra and NK Mukarji) said 50 trees had already been cut while 306 trees were still left. Many of the remaining trees are of heritage value and collectively they have been valued at Rs 220 crore.

The 59-km-stretch in question is part of India's Go East policy which aims at connecting Indian road network with that of Bangladesh and Myanmar. To widen the road, additional 4,036 trees would need to be chopped off and they have been valued at nearly Rs 3,000 crore.

The committee also said that if we were to actually factor in the real loss to the environment and human race over the years of these 4000 trees and translate it into money, it would be close to Rs 30,000 crore.

The first ever quantification of a tree's services

Probably, this is the first time ever the intrinsic value of a tree was calculated by Biologist Professor T M Das. The value was calculated based on various environmental benefits and services derived from a tree over its lifespan.

Published in the Indian Biologist in 1979, the paper suggested that the various benefits and services derived from a tree during its lifespan of 50 years, was $196,250 calculated at the market rate that prevailed in 1979. Now try and calculate the value of the tree at the current market price!

The paper received widespread acclaim and accreditation and also propelled several such studies by various subject matter specialists. Unfortunately, when take stock of conventional value of a tree, it takes into account only the weight and quality of timber and fruit derived from it.

Nature has no religion but a lot of value

This monetisation, however shallow, petty or irrelevant it may seem on the surface, has been long necessary. A lot many of the social media users rightfully pointed out, that the actual value of a tree was way beyond what was even calculated. Or maybe impossible to calculate.