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Weekly Pullouts » Haryana Tribune

Posted at: Jul 7, 2018, 12:50 AM; last updated: Jul 7, 2018, 12:50 AM (IST)

Tree felling at the altars of development

Public Works Department has sought permission to axe 1,300 trees for the construction of an underpass in Gurugram
Tree felling at the altars of development
Construction work underway at Rajeev Chowk in Gurugram where many trees were cut for the construction of the underpass. Tribune Photo: S Chandan

Sumedha Sharma

The latest request of the state Public Works Department (PWD) seeking permission to fell 1,300 trees for the construction of an underpass highlights the ruthless felling of the green cover at the altars of development in the millennium city. 

According to the Forest Department records, besides thousands of trees that are illegally felled across the city and the Aravali forest, over 1,500 trees have been ‘legally’ axed in the last two years. Around 7,500 trees were cut during 2017-18 and 7,200 during 2016-17. This was a steep increase over around 2,200 trees chopped off during 2015-16. The trees were felled with due permission to build new roads, buildings, underpasses and even for giving highway access to various realtors.

“When we speak about one of the major problems of Gurugram city, it is not inadequate roads or underpasses but lack of green cover and ground water. On the one hand, illegal cutting of trees in the Aravali forest goes on unchecked, on the other even government departments indulge in the practice. Mindless felling of trees highlights poor planning of projects that only ensures harm to the city in the long run rather than benefits. No project involving tree felling should be passed till the department concerned offers well planned equivalent compensation,” says environmentalist Jitender Bhadana.

“Traffic management is the biggest issue in Gurugram, which can be addressed by revamping and strengthening the road infrastructure. We cannot avoid cutting of trees but, yes, we have compensated for it by planting lakhs of saplings in areas near the South Peripheral Road (SPR), Eastern Peripheral Road (EPR) and the Aravali forest  or wherever feasible. Development is balanced with environment,” says PWD and Forest Minister Rao Narbir Singh. The underpass in question is to come up at Atul Kataria Chowk and the department has already sent a proposal to the Haryana Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), seeking permission at the earliest. It, however, has made no declaration to compensate for these trees or make efforts to transplant them. Sources claim that nearly 700 old trees will be cut in the notified forestland for which the permission of the MoEF is essential. Around 600 trees in the green belts of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) will also be felled for which the local Forest Department has already given its approval. An equal number of trees were axed to provide the present network of underpasses and flyovers in the city. 

Besides, even the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram plans to fell 28 trees and transplant 78 others for constructing an auditorium at Bal Bhawan in Sector 4. GMDA took a u-turn and shelved its plan to axe 26 trees for the construction of an underground water tank at the Leisure Valley Park in Sector 29.

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