Even as the officials of Municipal Corporation are excited over the ambitious project of widening the Ferozepur Road, the government of India has so far not granted permission to axe nearly 2,000 trees along the roadside.
The project to widen the Ferozepur Road from Jagraon Bridge to Sidhwan Canal may hit a roadblock even before it gets started as the forest and wildlife department is yet to forward the proposal file submitted by the civic body to axe trees on the Ferozepur Road.
The ambitious project, also termed as a dream project for deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, has been well-timed as the elections are due next year.
The project is scheduled to start anytime now as the bids have already been finalised.
Interestingly, the project was also stalled due to the rates quoted by two companies for widening the road.
On the one hand, where the state government has granted Rs 209 crore for the project, the lowest bid that came was Rs 243 crore. The MC is still mulling how to negotiate project's price with bidders.
Meanwhile, the permission to cut nearly 2,000 trees is another bottleneck in the project. After the forest and wildlife department furnishes details regarding trees to be cut, it would be forwarded to the ministry of environment and forest which would further grant a go ahead.
The widening of the road has become an important issue which was being delayed since long. Frequent traffic snarls are seen on the road which has become a problem for residents in city.
The project is estimated to take the load of heavy traffic (3 lakh vehicles per day) which enters Ludhiana from different sides. So far eight-laning of the road has been done for around 2-km from Sidhwan Canal Bridge to Octroi Post. However, the distance from Jagraon Bridge to Sidhwan Canal is nearly 4.5-km and has several trees along the roadside.
Divisional forest officer (DFO) Daljeet Singh Brar said that the Municipal Corporation of Ludhiana has given a proposal of axing trees that would come in the way of widening of Ferozepur Road from Jagraon Bridge to Sidhwan Canal.
“The government of India will give its nod after which we will communicate it to the MC so that trees can be axed,” the DFO said.
On the other hand, additional commissioner Sumeet Jarangal ensured that the civic body would get permission after which trees would be axed.
“It is obvious that trees would be cut to widen the road. Everything will be done legally and by following all formalities,” Jarangal said.
Sources in the forest department said that the permission to axe trees may take at least 2-3 months.
However, experts believe that cutting trees along the Ferozepur Road is not going to make any difference to the environment.
Dr Avtar Singh who is the head of Agro Forestry department of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) said that development comes at a cost.
“Government of Punjab has taken several initiatives to plant trees in different areas of the state. During the past two years, trees have been planted on 40,000 hectare land in state. The cutting of trees on the Ferozepur Road should not be taken negatively as trees have been planted in other areas,” Singh said.