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Monday, January 25, 2021

Chandigarh: Green activists come together for 700 trees to be felled for flyover

Over 75 activists, including students, retired bureaucrats, social activists and environmentalists, gathered holding banners of saving trees at Sector 29 roundabout.

Written by Saurabh Prashar | Chandigarh | December 20, 2020 4:03:00 am
Green activists protest, CHandigarh protest, 700 trees to be felled, Chandigarh flyover construction, Chandigarh news, Punjab news, Indian express newsResidents stage a protest at the roundabout between Industrial Area and Sector 29, Chandigarh, on Saturday. (Photo: Kamleshwar Singh)

Green activists along with tree lovers from Tricity Saturday gathered in solidarity with 700 trees to be felled for the construction of a flyover on Dakshin Marg raising slogans of “Don’t Kill Only 700” .

Over 75 activists, including students, retired bureaucrats, social activists and environmentalists, gathered holding banners of saving trees at Sector 29 roundabout. The activists did not call the event a protest against the UT Administration but stressed it was an awareness event urging the officers, who prepared the plan of flyover sitting in their cozy rooms without assessing the adverse ecological impact of the cutting down of 700 trees. These trees include a large number, which can be over six-decade-old.

Recently, the UT Administration decided to submit in the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it decided to give its nod for the construction of a flyover on Dakshin Marg. A petition is pending in the high court, which stayed the construction and any cutting of trees in November 2019. An environmentalist from Rajasthan, Likha Ram Bdhaniya, participated in the event.

Paveela Bali, the person behind the move and the petitioner in the High Court, said, “We were shocked to learn that administration is going ahead with the proposal of flyover, which required the felling of at least 700 trees. In the proposed plan, the administration had casually mentioned about the felling of only 700 trees. The word ‘only’ reflects the insensitivity of UT Administration about nature, climate and environment. There is something fishy behind this proposal. There are so many other ways to decongest the traffic on Dakshin Marg, such as construction of underpasses, increasing the size of roads, diversion of traffic. But administration is only focused on the flyover.”

H S Minhas, a retired chief engineer from Punjab Irrigation Department, said, “I had been staying in Chandigarh for over three decades during my service. Now I am settled in Mohali and also runs an environmental society. It is not about the place, it is about the trees. We are not against the development but we are against the loss of ecology. Nobody can replace the 700 trees. UT Administration and its forest department makes loud claims of replantation of the selective trees. There is not a single example of successful replantation of any tree. We came here to participate in the event urging the administration that felling of trees will be injustice to the city and its people.”

Amarjeet Singh Minhas, another activist from Mohali, said, “Flyover is not the right solution. The administration can tackle the problem of traffic jams, chaos with other methods too.”

The National Students Union of India (NSUI) too extended their support to the green activists. Manoj Lubana, NSUI convener, along with other members and office-bearers attended the event. The UT Administration had planned a 7-km-long flyover, but the Union Government reduced the length to 3.5 km. Later, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways further reduced the length of the flyover to 1.2 km. UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore had laid the foundation stone of the project in March 2019. The Centre had approved the Rs 183-crore project in February 2019 to decongest Sector 29 roundabout.

Subsequently, a petition filed by the Run Club of Paveela Bali against the cutting of nearly 700 trees for the flyover, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had stayed the construction of the elevated road in November 2019 and had asked for a public opinion to find an alternative to the flyover. On the directions of the HC a public hearing was held in December last year to obtain suggestions and objections of people on the project. A majority of residents, professionals and architects had opposed the construction.

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