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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

30 trees chopped to build foot overbridges in Greater Noida

cities Updated: Oct 11, 2019 19:14 IST
Kushagra Dixit
Kushagra Dixit

Noida: A total of 30 fully grown tree had been felled by the Greater Noida authority for building two foot overbridges, with officials defending the move saying there was no other option.

The district forest department had permitted the felling of 30 trees in September along the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway in Sector 154 and Sector 128.

Among those felled were several old neem trees with a trunk of diameter of 130cm, 96cm, 86cm and 71cm. A pipal tree of diameter 110cm was also felled. The others that were felled include two banyan trees, amaltas and dhak. While the district forest department had permitted the transplantation of 14 calliandra trees with a girth of 20cm each, the smallest of the lot, the officials at the horticulture department said they had to cut them as the calliandra trees were small and it was better to plant fresh ones rather than move these elsewhere.

According to environmentalists, had there been a proper planning, the felling could have been avoided.

“It is ironic that while on one hand, the authority promotes plantation, and yet, officials don’t even hesitate before axing fully grown trees some of which are as old as 25 to 30 years. No one is opposing the development work, but there is always an alternative— they could have carried out the construction without chopping trees had there been better planning,” Noida-based environmentalist Vikrant Tongad said.

However, the authority officials say they tried their level best to avoid felling trees and the number of trees axed was the minimum they could have done.

“There was no other way. The foot overbridge starts from the green belt on both sides of the expressway and it was a long pending demand of villagers, who otherwise have to jaywalk across the road and there have been several accidents because of this,” Rajendra Kumar, head, Zone 3, horticulture department, Greater Noida authority, said.

According to the forest department, development authorities are exempted from having to pay a financial or any other type of compensation, like planting extra trees to compensate for those axed.

Forest officials said in most cases, when they receive a request to fell trees for development work and the agencies assure the forest department that there is no alternative but to fell trees, then permission is granted.

“The development authorities often undertake plantation initiatives on their own and they have a track record of planting a number of trees, so they are exempted from compensatory plantation or fine, which varies from tree to tree and starts at ₹5,000 per tree. In other cases, individuals or agencies are asked to plant five to 10 trees elsewhere for each tree that is felled,” Pramod Kumar Srivastava, divisional forest officer, Gautam Budh Nagar, said.

According to experts, a number of trees are often chopped in the absence of proper planning.

“Whenever the development agencies build infrastructure, they don’t plan the construction keeping trees in mind. There are examples where infrastructure has been developed without cutting a single tree, all it takes is planning. These development authorities must understand that the infrastructure requirement will never stop in cities, but that does not mean you will chop grown trees that are decades old,” Ravi Agarwal, director NGO Toxic Link and former member Delhi tree authority, said.

First Published: Oct 11, 2019 19:14 IST

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