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Issue 44
, 2013
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New road threatens 3,000 trees

Toxics Link
Source: Times Of India, Date: , 2013

NEW DELHI: The Vasant Kunj blunder by PWD, wherein its contractor had damaged many trees during a road-widening project, is about to get repeated in Vikaspuri. For the construction of an elevated corridor from Vikaspuri to Meera Bagh, the residents allege that the civic body will chop off around 3,000 trees.

The work on the 3.3km long elevated corridor, coming up at a cost of Rs 559.6 crore, started in February-end. "Even though the trees are on the sides and the elevated corridor in the middle, PWD has dug up the sides and removed the soil around the trees leaving the roots exposed. The trees will eventually fall even after a light shower. This way, the officials can say the trees fell on their own and they had nothing to do with it," said Aditya Prasad, the one raising concerns over the project.

However, PWD officials say they have got permission from the forest department to chop 785 trees and it is a part of the project. "We wanted permission for 914 trees but got only for 785. Even the officials will not hack off trees unnecessarily. In fact, the total trees to be cut will be less than the total number.

The residents are unaware of the nitty-gritty of project and they believe that all the trees will be cut," said Raj Kumar Chauhan, PWD minister.

But the residents have moved the court against the PWD officials. "There is no protection for trees. One department says they aren't cutting the trees while the other says they are. They dig around the trees and wait for them to fall. We aren't against development but it has to be without destruction of the green cover. The saplings that they plant do not last as nobody takes care. Our forest department is in pits. Similar thing had happened in Rohini Sector 13. It is very disturbing to read such reports but it seems our government is not ready to learn from Uttarakhand tragedy. We have made PWD a party and we will not let them pass the project," said Rajiv Dutta, senior advocate.

Though the residents are protesting against the project, PWD minister assured that it will be completed in the stipulated time and will be a breather for the commuters. Once the project is completed, Outer Ring Road from Meera Bagh to Wazirabad will be signal-free. "For cutting one tree, we will plant 10 saplings. Some of the trees will be relocated. We had submitted the plan, we did submit

the locations where these 7,850 saplings will be planted. Even the elevated road and central verges will have trees," said Chauhan.