UP gives permission to fell 112,000 trees for road along Upper Ganga Canal - Hindustan Times
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UP gives permission to fell 112,000 trees for road along Upper Ganga Canal

By, Ghaziabad
Jan 31, 2024 05:36 AM IST

Environmental activists, however, warned that felling such a large number of trees will adversely impact the biodiversity of the region, and will displace the local wildlife

The Uttar Pradesh forest department has cleared the felling of more than 100,000 trees and shrubs in the protected forest area of three forest divisions — Ghaziabad, Meerut and Muzaffarnagar — for the construction for two lanes of the 111-km Kanwar Marg from Muradnagar to Purkaji near the Uttarakhand border, officials aware of the matter said on Tuesday.

The proposed road, officials said, will run along the western embankment of the Upper Ganga Canal (above). (Sakib Ali/HT Photo)
The proposed road, officials said, will run along the western embankment of the Upper Ganga Canal (above). (Sakib Ali/HT Photo)

Environmental activists, however, warned that felling such a large number of trees will adversely impact the biodiversity of the region, and will displace the local wildlife. The activists also noted that Ghaziabad in particular suffers from high pollution levels, and felling such a large number of trees will only worsen the situation.

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The Kanwar Marg, which runs along the Upper Ganga Canal, at present has two lanes that run parallel to the water body along the eastern embankment. The new project, officials said, will run along the western embankment of the canal.

The 658-crore project is to be taken up by the UP Public Works Department (PWD), and will be funded by the state government. This road, officials said, will serve as a bypass for light vehicles, and will be an alternate route for kanwariyas travelling to and from Haridwar during the annual kanwar yatra.

“Temporary permission for felling the trees has been received from the Centre to the state government… The felling of trees will start initially in Meerut, with the help of the forest department. We plan to execute the project in lots, with approvals from the concerned forest department officials,” said PWD executive engineer Sanjay Pratap Singh, who is the nodal officer for the project.

Another official aware of the project said the foundation stone for the project will soon be laid. “It is being mooted as a priority project for UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath,” the official said, on condition of anonymity.

Manish Singh, the divisional forest officer for Ghaziabad, said, “We have received temporary forest clearance for felling of trees/shrubs for the project and it is expected that the PWD will initiate the work of felling of trees by next week under supervision of the forest department officials. The entire stretch has about 112,722 trees/shrubs in protected forests of the three divisions (Ghaziabad, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar).”

Another forest department official said that the compensatory afforestation for the project will be taken up in Lalitpur district —about 550km from Ghaziabad.

“We expect that there will be displacement of wildlife due to the project. Animals such as rabbits, certain reptiles, birds, and even hyenas will lose their habitat as a result. But there is no presence of notified wildlife in the area. The tree felling will also reduce protected forest cover in the three districts,” the officer said, on condition of anonymity.

Environmental activists, meanwhile, noted that felling such a large number of trees will adversely affect the biodiversity in the region.

“The trees along the Upper Ganga Canal are fully matured and old. Felling them will adversely impact the local biodiversity and will also displace wildlife. It will also adversely impact the environment due to loss of forest and tree cover,” said Akash Vashishtha, a Ghaziabad-based environmentalist and lawyer.

Vashishtha also questioned the logic of carrying out the compensatory afforestation drive in Lalitpur. “Ghaziabad district in particular suffers from high levels of pollution and its forest cover has not improved over the years. So, compensatory afforestation in Lalitpur will not help,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Peeyush Khandelwal writes on a range of issues in western Uttar Pradesh – from crime, to development authorities and from infrastructure to transport. Based in Ghaziabad, he has been a journalist for almost a decade.

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