July 26, 2017 8:54:14 am
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the Maharashtra State Road Development Authority (MSRDA) on Monday to submit, in writing, all details of the trees felled for road widening project at National Highway-4, near Dehu Road. The departments concerned have been ordered to submit the report by the next hearing of the case, on August 3. MSRDA, along with National Highway Development Authority and the State Forest Department, is working on the widening of National Highway-4, a four-kilometre-long stretch between Nigdi and Dehu Road.
The road-widening project has hit several stumbling blocks so far. Locals and NGOs have constantly been up in arms against the government agencies for maintaining a silence on tree transplantation. As many as 261 trees need to be axed for the road-widening project. The government agencies had, in May, submitted a report in the court, mentioning the presence of 188 trees.
Of these, they had suggested, 45 will be retained, while 26 were worth replantation, and 99 trees needed to be axed. Activists had opposed the suggestion, stating that 73 trees were not mentioned in the report. Human Rights Protection and Awareness (HRPA) group had filed the case with Pune bench of the NGT earlier this year, seeking details of the replantation drive. The government agencies, however, are yet to furnish any concrete plans before the court.
“Though we are not against any development plans, we are seeking information about the trees, which will be felled as a part of the road-widening project,” said Shrikant Jogdand, secretary of HRPA, Pimpri-Chichnwad. The agencies also allegedly delayed the matter, citing the role of Dehuraod Cantonment Board (DCB) through which this said road passes, said a member. “However, the court is convinced that the cantonment board has no say in the matter and has asked for explanation from MSRDA,” added another member.
In the previous hearings, the green court had also instructed both the parties to submit a detailed tree census, with photographs.
During the exercise, activists alleged, the government agencies had played down the number of trees to be affected. Over 100 trees found no mention in either the list of replantation or retention, they added.
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