97,000 trees chopped: ‘PWD’s compensatory forestation report sketchy’

  • Vivek Gupta, Hindustan Times, Patiala
  • Updated: May 23, 2016 10:42 IST
Work in progress on NH-64 near Punjabi University in Patiala. (Bharat Bhushan/HT Photo)

In its recent reply to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on axing of 97,000 trees along the Zirakpur-Batinda highway, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) said the compliance report received from state public works department (PWD) on compensatory forestation was sketchy.

The report states that during its ground inspection, representatives of contractors could not show the progress regarding compensatory plantation to be carried out for the project.

In its May 20 order, the NGT has imposed a ban on axing of trees in Punjab without its approval. The PPCB report contradicts the state government’s reply to the NGT where it claimed it had already carried out half of the compensatory plantation in the affected districts along with highway.

The reply added that the six-member committee of the PPCB found that the PWD was not complying with the conditions of environmental clearance which mandated the state government to ensure compensatory plantation on both sides of the highway.

“On the basis of the report, the board issued a notice to the PWD executive engineer on January 20 seeking his personal appearance, but the department has not been able to submit a complete compliance report on conditions of the environment clearance imposed by the Union government,” states the PPCB reply to the NGT.

When contacted, Sangrur-based petitioner Amandeep Aggarwal said the PPCB reply indicated that the compensatory plantation, if at all done, was shoddy. The NGT has asked the state government to submit the status report of compensatory plantation for not only for the Zirakpur-Bathinda highway project but for all such projects undertaken in the past five years.

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