NGT slams NHAI over chopping of trees for road widening

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal has slammed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for reckless felling of trees in the name of development of highways and sought details of the afforestation done by it to compensate the green cover.

The green panel directed the General Manager of NHAI to file an affidavit stating total number of trees it has chopped till date while executing various projects across the country.

"The counsel appearing for NHAI would file affidavit of General Manager stating how many trees they have cut in the projects referred to in this application, where they had already cut such trees and the environmental clearance for the project itself, how many trees have been planted by way of afforestation and the places where such afforestation has been done," a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter
Kumar said. The matter is listed for hearing on July 25.

The tribunal had last year said that indiscriminate and illegal felling of trees would lead to environmental disaster and imposed a ban on cutting of trees without clearance from the Centre and authorities. The direction came while hearing a plea by NGO Friends which had alleged that "mindless" cutting of trees has been carried out by NHAI for various road widening projects but no afforestation has been done till date.

The plea had claimed that 8,700 trees have been cut down on Bareily-Sitapur, NH-24 upto July 2014 while 61,029 trees have been chopped off on Delhi Agra, NH-2 project up to September 2014 but no plantation has been done till date. "On NH-91 (Ghaziabad to Aligarh) around 25,000 trees have been chopped off up to April, 2014 and the work of re-plantation has not been started while around 1,584 trees have been chopped off of on NH-30 from Patna to Bakhtiarpur till December 2014, but no plantation to compensate the said loss of trees has been started up to July, 2015," the plea had said.

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