The people’s protest against proposed felling of 1,963 trees on Ludhiana-Ferozepur road (a national highway) for Rs 800 crore Elevated road project intensified Friday. Protesters made a human chain along Aarti Chowk holding the placards ‘No Trees, No Votes’.
Protesters said that if the politicians cannot ensure a safe future for their children and stop proposed felling for 1,963 trees in a polluted city like Ludhiana, then they should not expect votes also.
“There is no question of asking for votes if our basic right to have clean air and environment is infringed. We are not asking for anything else but just rollback of decision to chop 1,963 fully grown trees without which Ludhiana city will choke. This highway passes through the heart of Ludhiana and we cannot afford to lose trees here,” said Ravneet Singh from EcoSikh.
Protesters said that the project is being pursued just to utilize grant of Rs 800 crore from central government even when there is no need of an elevated road on this highway which witnesses no traffic congestion.
The next hearing in National Green Tribunal (NGT) is scheduled for July 12 when court will hear the petition of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) seeking permission to chop 1,963 trees for the road project.
Meanwhile, following continuous protests, a meeting of several citizens and NGOs was held with NHAI and forest officials to find a ‘midway’.
NHAI officials claimed that they will immediately stop dumping mud and debris in green belts till there is no permission to chop trees from NGT. Currently, the debris being dumped by NHAI is damaging green belt, said the residents.
It was also discussed that how ill-planned project is actually going to congest the city further instead of decongesting besides damaging entire green belt on both sides of highway.
It was also agreed that within a week NHAI will mark trees in red (to be chopped) and yellow (can be saved) colors for the residents to have a clear picture. Officials claimed efforts are on to save 450 trees. NHAI officials also claimed that they will try getting budget passed to translocate big trees and estimate requirement for which is Rs 2 crore.
Citizens also demanded a 3D presentation for the project to see what is the plan of NHAI for future plantation once elevated road is completed. The next meeting will be held after NHAI is done with tree markings in red and yellow.