Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Axe to fall on 4,800 trees for national highway project

Axe to fall on 4,800 trees for national highway project
The Indian Express

Over 4,800 trees, including many rare and indigenous ones, will be cut down to pave the way for National Highway 8D, connecting Jetpur in Rajkot district to Somnath in Junagadh district.

The state Forest Department has invited tenders to fell the trees, after which a 127-km long four-lane highway would be constructed.

According to the tender issued in a vernacular daily recently, there are 4,865 trees of as many as 35 varieties — including neem, coconut, mango, eucalyptus, pipal and others — that need to be cut down.

The department had given the permission for this to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) one-and-a-half-year ago.

According to the Forest Department, the axe will fall on the trees on either side of two patches — one from Jetpur to Junagadh city, and another from Veraval to Somnath.

On the first stretch, there are 2,743 trees of 35 varieties, all planted in 1979-80, while on the Veraval-Somnath stretch, there are 2,122 trees, planted in 1993-94.

Forest officials, however, said all the trees would not be cut down.

"We have been trying to save as many trees as we can. At the time of cutting, a department team will be present on the spot to identify the trees that will not be touched," said Junagadh deputy conservator of forest R D Katara.

He said plantation will be done again on either side of the new road. "For the same, expenses will be borne by the NHAI while the plantation will be done by the Forest Department," he said, adding, "The department will again plant more trees, but it will definitely take time for the new road to regain its green cover."

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