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Trees pay price of development: report

india Updated: May 20, 2013 01:51 IST
Himabindu Reddy

In the past ten years, Gurgaon has grown by leaps and bounds when it comes to industry and infrastructure. But this has reportedly been at the cost of the city’s green cover. According to data provided by the Haryana Forest Development Corporation (HFDC), Gurgaon chapter, 61,050 trees have been felled here in the past 11 years (2001 to 2011).

The highest number of trees was felled in 2002, with the count at 13,843. This was the year when the four-lane National Highway-8, which connects New Delhi and Mumbai, was being laid. Further, when the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, a part of NH-8 that cuts through Gurgaon, was being widened to six lanes, 8,312 trees were cut along the 28-km stretch.

Similarly, in the past decade, Gurgaon has witnessed many major infrastructural development projects such as Golf Course Road, Gurgaon-Faridabad Expressway, Northern Peripheral Road, Southern Peripheral Road, etc. There have been many residential and commercial projects for which many trees across the district have been axed down.

There also have been several instances, where trees have been cut down illegally by developers and sometimes also by the administration. To cite a recent example, on May 8 this year, the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) forcibly entered the greenbelt area of a gated community near Shankar Chowk and razed 50 trees to the ground. The move was made to construct a connecting road for a mall.

With the Millennium city’s soaring real estate value, private developers have been eyeing its green cover. Acting as a catalyst to this threat, the state forest department had forgotten to renotify the Punjab Land and Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900 that had expired on November 27, 2012. “The actual number of trees felled is higher than what is being quoted in the records. Once a tree preservation act is introduced in Gurgaon, the private developers and builders won’t have the guts to axe down trees. This act will give the forest department more power to regulate the non-forestry activities,” said Vivek Kamboj, founder of Haryali, an NGO.