More than 20,000 trees will be felled to make way for four-laning of the Jalandhar-Barnala road on the National Highway-71, as part of one of the most ambitious projects to boost inter-state road connectivity between Punjab, Haryana and other parts of the northern region.
A forest area spread over 150 hectares will be cleared for the project, which is part of the widening of the NH-71, running 307 kilomtres from Jalandhar to Rewari district in Haryana.
An estimated Rs. 2,000 crore will be spent on four-laning of the highway from Jalandhar to Barnala — crossing through Nakodar, Shahkot, Dharamkot and Badhni Kalan (Moga district) and running 146 kilomtres from Jyoti Chowk in Jalandhar to Barnala town.
The forest divisions of Phillaur, Muktsar and Sangrur have completed surveys of the forest area and trees which falls along the 146-kilomtre road.
The survey reports will be submitted in the coming days.
Reports said the Phillaur division surveyed areas from Jyoti Chowk to Shahkot subdivision in Jalandhar district.
It has been estimated that some 2,700-odd trees will be cut in this division in 52.80-hectares of forest area.
The Muktsar forest division has surveyed area from Dharamkot to Badhni Kalan (both areas come in Moga district). As per the report, around 60 hectares of forest area will be cleared and around 13,000 trees will be cut for widening the road there. This forest area is larger than other two divisions and will be more affected.
The Sangrur forest division surveyed 38.7 hectares of forest area from Badhni Kalan to Barnala town and an estimated 5,000 trees will be uprooted to make way for the project.
An official said the forest department would plant saplings about 10 times the uprooted trees and the executing agency would also provide the department land besides paying the cost of the felled trees.
Phillaur divisional forest officer Surjeet Singh Gill said, "We will send a report to senior officials in a few days. They will study this again and the file will go to the Centre via Punjab government."
Muktsar Divisional forest officer Sanjay Bansal said the report which had been prepared was based on the tree count and forest area measurement.
The four-laning project report includes four big bypass roads, nine small bypasses, six flyovers, 16 pedestrian underpasses, seven vehicular underpasses at railway crossings and three railways overbridges.
The public works department (building and roads) will be the executing agency.
The Centre has already cleared the project and it will provide a budget of Rs. 2,000 crore for this. The project will be taken up on the built-operate transfer basis.
The agency which would construct this stretch will have rights to charge toll tax for the next 29 years. Two toll plazas will be constructed for which locations are yet to be decided. The project is expected to start on October 1 this year while March 28, 2017 has been set as deadline.
Trees to be felled
Phillaur forest division: From Jyoti Chowk to Shahkot subdivision, 2,700-odd trees will be felled in 52.80-hectare area
Muktsar forest division: From Dharamkot to Badhni Kalan (both in Moga district), 13,000 trees will be cut in 60-hectare area
Sangrur forest division: From Badhni Kalan to Barnala town, about 5,000 trees will be uprooted in 38.7 hectares of area