The National Highway Authority of India(NHAI) has sought permission from the National Green Tribunal to fell at least 3,000 trees for an elevated road project from Samrala Chowk to Ferozepur Road in Ludhiana. The plea, filed by NHAI with the NGT, is scheduled to be heard on November 16 (Thursday) at Delhi. The project, costing Rs 770 crore, has been opposed by experts since its inception. They have argued that there is ‘no current need’ for an elevated road corridor on Ferozepur road and that ‘heavy construction activity in heart of the city will deteriorate the air quality further’.
Not only experts, a group of residents from Ludhiana have also decided to oppose the project in the NGT.
Harpreet Soin, a resident of Ludhiana who is leading the pressure group against this project said, “Seeing the mayhem that smog and pollution has created here and in the entire region, government still feels that flyovers and roads are most important than protecting trees. Already there is hardly any forest cover in Ludhiana. We will be opposing this move in the court and NHAI won’t be allowed to fell any more trees. Projects can wait but currently people are even grappling to breathe properly.”
Sangrur-based resident Dr Amandeep Aggarwal who has already filed various petitions in NGT against tree felling in Punjab said, “Close to 10 lakh trees have been chopped in Punjab from 2011 to 2016 for various projects. Punjab forest department in a written statement has accepted that it even used Rs 83 lakh which were meant for compensatory afforestation under CAMPA (Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority) constituted by the Centre on the orders of the Supreme Court, to pay fees to its lawyers. So basically they diverted and misused CAMPA funds meant for planting trees to justify tree felling in court.” He added that he will be demanding a stay on the project and denial of permission to NHAI on Thursday.
Confirming that a petition has been filed by NHAI in the NGT to raze 3,000 trees, NK Jain, project director, while speaking with The Indian Express said, “Development comes at a price, so we have to pay some price for this project as well. Once the elevated corridor is constructed, it will reduce pollution as traffic will be eased out in Ludhiana. We have asked for permission from NGT to fell 3,000 trees including that on both sides of Ferozepur road but we will try to save as many as possible. Forest department will be doing compensatory planting.”