Aakanksha N Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service
Jalandhar, June 20
The cutting of trees in various regions of the state for road-widening projects took place ruthlessly last week just ahead of June 17, the day when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ban on tree cutting was resumed after a two-month stay by the Supreme Court.
The process of axing the trees along the Ropar-Phagwara, Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur and Ludhiana-Mohali highways went on at a faster pace just because the NHAI and forest officials concerned were aware that the SC stay on the NGT ban could be lifted on June 17.
Along NH-70 from Jalandhar to Hoshiarpur, the acquisition of 60.8 hectares of forest land along the existing road is currently under way. Of the 6,000 trees that were to be cut in Jalandhar division, nearly 4,000 trees were axed in the past week.
“Around 4,000 trees have been cut for the road-widening project,” confirmed Harjinder Singh, Divisional Manager of Punjab State Forest Conservation, Phillaur.
For another project along NH-95 from Mohali to Ludhiana under which 84.08 hectares of forest division are being acquired by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), mass cutting of trees took place.
As per the information from forest division officials, of the 10,470 trees that are to be cut, 9,960 have already been axed in Ludhiana division. In Mohali and Ropar division, 20,267 trees have been cut.
From Banga to Ropar, of the 20,977 trees, around 11,000 trees have already been cut. The trees here are being cut for the acquisition of 109.9 hectares of forest land in favour of NHAI for the four-laning of Ropar-Nawanshahr-Banga-Phagwara road.
“According to me, the best way is to transplant a tree rather than cutting it. If a tree is 7-8 years old, it can be transferred from one place to another along with the roots,” said former adviser (landscaping), Punjab, SPS Dosanjh.
Monty Sehgal, spokesperson, Youth Akali Dal, said that the trees are being cut ruthlessly and no process is being followed. “It is mass killing, not mass cutting. No one is paying any attention to planting new trees,” he said.
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