A group of environmentalists have approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) against the felling of 20,000 trees to widen the 43km-long Gurugram-Rewari highway, calling it “unlawful”.
The petitioners alleged that permission for cutting the trees was granted without considering the existing laws and guidelines.
The petition also pointed out that the agency implementing the project (NHAI) was urged to cut the trees only on one side of the road. But no such suggestion was carried out, the petition said.
“This is a clear violation of the national forest policy, 1988. It states that the national goal is to have forest or green cover on a minimum of one-third of the total land of the country,” said Vivek Kamboj, one of the petitioners. The national forest policy states that the “national goal should be to have a minimum of one-third of the total land area of the country under forest or tree cover. In the hills and in mountainous regions, the aim should be to maintain two-thirds of the area under such cover in order to prevent erosion and land degradation and to ensure the stability of the fragile eco-system”.
According to the law, no tree can be felled unless 10 others are planted against it. In this case, no compensatory afforestation has been carried out yet, the environmentalists pointed out. With hardly any land available in Gurugram, officials in the forest department are planning to plant 1.5 times the number of trees that felled outside the district. One of their options could be Morni-Pinjore in the Panchkula district, which is 300km away from Gurugram.
By law, no tree can be cut down without having planted 10 trees. In this case, compensatory reforestation has not yet been done, environmentalists point out. With very little land available in Gurugram, forest department officials are planning to plant 1.5 times the number of trees that felled outside the district.
“The design of the project itself is contrary to the ‘policy guidelines for land acquisition, tree felling and utility shifting’ across the alignment issued by the ministry of road transport and highways, which require felling of trees on only one side of the right of way,” said Vaishali Rana Chandra, an environmentalist.