The four-laning of the 10km Hussainiwala-Ferozepur road as part of 'Destination Ferozepur', a tourism development plan, would lead to axing of nearly 1,000 full grown trees, the permission regarding which had been granted by the divisional forest office, Ferozepur.
The union ministry of heavy transport and roads had given approval to four-lane the above-said road till the main entrance of Ferozepur city i.e. octroi no.7, while most other permissions, including those from the forest department, had also been granted, revealed an official.
It may be mentioned that the union ministry for tourism had given the nod to a special project, 'Destination Ferozepur', to tap its tourist potential and bring Ferozepur on the tourist map. To ensure smooth movement of traffic from Ferozepur to Hussainiwala, the four-laning project had been approved.
There are about 1,000 trees, including those of 'shisham', some of which are even 80-year-old, besides a lion's share of trees to be axed includes more than 40-year-old trees, pointed out an official, seeking anonymity.
It would further take several decades to get the same green cover back, that too if forestation drive is launched and later monitored properly, the official added.
To further develop the Hussainiwala Memorial, created in memory of martyrs Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, the dilapidated Kasur railway station would be repaired and conserved, a nature walk interpretation-cum-yoga centre, including a cycling track, walking track and gym would be established. A toilet complex with souvenir shops, snacks counter, ATM, etc., and parking at Hussainiwala, situated near the India-Pakistan border, 10km away from Ferozepur, would also be constructed.
At Hussainiwala, a Joint Check Post (JCP) 11 km from Ferozepur, a large number of audience from far-flung areas of India and Pakistan (on their sides) come to witness the 40-minute retreat ceremony when silence is punctuated by the clattering of heavy boots as the BSF jawans, dressed in khaki on the Indian side, who match steps with the sound of Peshawari 'chappals' of the 'salwar-kurta' clad Pakistani rangers, under the loud command of their picket commanders every evening.
A km inside the Indian territory is the memorial of martyrs Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev. The area remained in Pakistan's occupation till 1962 and was returned to India in exchange for 12 villages near Sulemanki (Fazilka) the same year.
Sanjeev Tiwari, DFO (forests), Ferozepur, said the permission, subject to conditions, had been granted for axing trees along the road from Hussainiwala to Ferozepur.
Two times of the forest area lost in the project would be facilitated by the state government for compensatory forestation to recover the loss of green cover, said Tiwari.