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WITH WORK of chopping more than 1,500 trees along Sidhwan Canal of Ludhiana going on in full swing to construct Ladhowal bypass by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), a group of residents gathered at the site Sunday to discuss the issue.
With the green cover of Ludhiana estimated at just 1.9 per cent against requirement of at least 33 per cent for healthy environment, the residents questioned the government over compensatory planting plans and that if there is any plan, why it hasn’t started yet.
With the tag of being one of the most polluted cities in the world, industrial city Ludhiana is losing its green cover to various infrastructural projects in name of development.
Apart from these trees being axed on Sidhwan Canal Road, more than 10,000 are also being axed on Ludhiana-Chandigarh road for widening. Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) too has axed trees at the campus recently. The proposed elevated road project on Ferozepur road too will witness chopping of trees on highway once work starts.
In the meeting, it was decided that a group of people including local panchayats in villages near canal, residents of colonies near South City and others will visit district forest office (DFO) on Monday to submit a memorandum demanding details of compensatory planting plan.
“We have identified a patch of land behind Hotel Keys which is lying barren and can accommodate at least 10,000 plants. We want forest department to take responsibility of this area and start immediate planting. Then there are many other states which are not axing trees but translocating them using latest machinery. Why can’t Punjab buy those machines? We want the government to take immediate note of this. We also want explanation on how funds given by NHAI to forest department for in lieu of axing trees, are being used. Are those funds being used for plantation?,” said Harpreet Soin, from Ludhiana Cares Ladies Society.
The residents also questioned that why Congress, which before polls talked about its concern for environment and even released a ‘Green Manifesto’, is silent over green cover being massacred in state specially Ludhiana.
“Earlier too, trees have been axed in Ludhiana and then plantation done in other districts like Gurdaspur and Nawanshahr where land is comparatively cheaper. How will this increase green cover in Ludhiana,” said a resident.
Meanwhile, claiming that compensatory planting for trees being axed will be done in Ludhiana district itself, district forest officer Charanjit Singh said a “plan has been prepared” to plant new trees.
“As part of compensatory afforestation, we will be planting 31,948 new plants on 31.94 hectares of land. This includes 10,000 plants on 10 Ha near Kakrala Minor drain, 6620 plants on 6.62 Ha at Mand Jodhwal, 10,000 plants on 10 Ha in Mand Khanpur and 5,328 plants on 5.3 Ha in Mattewara forest,” claimed DFO adding that work on afforestation is ‘yet to start’.