The good news: Three new flyovers are coming up on the Outer Ring Road between IIT and NH 8 in South Delhi. The bad news: They will rob the city of at least 2,300 trees.
At an estimated cost of around Rs 250 crore, the Public Works Department (PWD) is building the flyovers, work for which has already begun. The three flyovers are aimed to give the near-congested traffic at Munirka, JNU and Vasant Vihar intersections a signal-free fast ride. With these flyovers, travel time between several areas of south Delhi and the airport and Gurgaon would be shortened significantly. There are also plans for making foot-overbridges and underpasses to make life better for pedestrians.
The above, however, comes at a cost. With thickly populated, full-grown trees along service lanes on both sides, the stretch is a “green lung” for South Delhi. The PWD promises to make up for the loss of greenery through compensatory planting at the outskirts. “Trees will be planted in Rewala Khanpur,” said R. Subramaniam, engineer-in-chief of PWD. He described cutting the trees as “inevitable.” Forest department sources confirmed that necessary permissions for the felling of the trees has been processed.
This is not the first time that transport and infrastructure projects — whose importance in this ever-growing city can’t be emphasised enough — have affected the capital’s green belts. Not far from this stretch, the upcoming High Capacity Bus System (HCBS) corridor from Ambedkar Nagar to Delhi Gate will fell 1,700 roadside trees.
In a greenery assessment report prepared at the behest of the Delhi Urban Development ministry in 2001, environmental NGO Kalpavriksh classified this stretch as a “model road” in terms of greenery. “On both sides, there are densely placed trees like kusum, safed pilkhan, papri, khejri and others, which are hardy and have a tremendous impact on the microenvironment,” said Ajay Mahajan, director of Kalpavriksh.