Taking up a petition filed by Amritsar MP Capt Amarinder Singh, seeking directions to save more than 1,000 trees in Amritsar from being cut for the execution of development plans, the Punjab and Haryana high court has granted three weeks' time to the state government to decide on his representation.
The directions came from the division bench comprising acting chief justice Ashutosh Mohunta and justice HS Sidhu on Wednesday while disposing of the public interest litigation.
The Amritsar MP had also sought directions to the authorities concerned to conduct appropriate mitigation measures in their engineering design construction schedules and techniques to minimise the adverse environment impact, as most of the trees proposed to be cut are adjacent to boundary walls of buildings and are not necessary to be axed.
Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Kanwalvir Singh Kang informed the court that a large number of trees were proposed to be cut for the widening of roads for the bus rapid transit (BRT) project on the mall road, circular road, Kitchlu road and Chowk Bhandari bridge road. Another development project pertains to the upgradation of the GT road, Bhandari bridge to Guru Nanak Dev University, wherein 279 trees are to be cut on a single road, he added.
The court was informed that the petitioner was not opposing development projects in the city but only sought directions to the authorities to conduct an exercise to survey the project from the standpoint of minimising the cutting of trees as a majority of these are situated right adjacent to the boundary walls of houses and buildings, and do not cause hindrance to the proposed widening of roads.
It was submitted that the authorities ought to have identified alternative ways to ameliorate adverse environmental impacts or deviation of roads. Amritsar would become a complete concrete jungle with cutting of trees in such a large number and its environmental impact would be drastic, the petitioner added.
On the proposed Bhandari bridge to Guru Nanak Dev University, there are trees which are more than 100 years old, including drek, mulberry, sheesham, eucalyptus, toot etc. and even in the walled city of Amritsar, thousands of trees are proposed to be cut which are fully grown and more than 100 years old.
Residents of Amritsar had submitted representations in the petitioner's office, calling upon the MP to take up their issue and that a committee should be formed to look into the feasibility aspect of saving the trees from cutting, the petitioner informed.