A vacation bench of the Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday stayed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order of May 19 banning tree felling in Punjab for five infrastructural projects being carried out by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
The order came on the NHAI petition whereby it had submitted that the blanket ban order was passed without taking into consideration that the NHAI had adhered to the statutory rules and regulations with respect to cutting and felling of trees. The order had also stalled critical and time-bound projects of public importance. The order had caused a huge loss to the government exchequer and inconvenience to the people, the court was told.
The projects included the Ambala-Chandigarh highway where the work on service lanes and drainage system on the 3km stretch is underway for which 500 trees are to be axed and four-laning of the 14-km stretch of the Kharar-Kurali road, including Kurali bypass, for which 3,670 trees are to be axed. The other projects are the 10km four-laning work on the Chandigarh-Kharar section of the NH-21 from Sector 39 to Kharar for which 924 trees are to be cut and six-laning of the Jalandhar-Amritsar section of the NH-11 for which 1,061 trees are to be axed.
The high court gave permission for the Amritsar bypass project, a 24km stretch, for which 397 trees are to be axed.
The court was told that the order was passed in a different case and the NHAI had nothing to do with it, but due to the nature of the order, the company was aggrieved as felling had been banned in the entire state. The court was told that the NHAI had taken permission from the departments and authorities concerned and had also deposited the compensation amount.
Ordering that petition be listed for hearing with other such matters on July 19, the high court vacation bench of justice AG Masih and justice Hari Pal Verma stayed the NGT order for NHAI’s five projects. The response of the Union government and the NGT, along with the Punjab government, has been sought by July 19.
Earlier, the high court had stayed the NGT order in respect of Bist Doab canal project in Jalandhar and Nawanshahr districts on May 25 and later on June 1 for the Banur Canal project in SAS Nagar and Patiala.