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No plans to compensate loss of trees for Sohna Road elevated corridor: Forest department

Experts said this loss of green cover will adversely impact living conditions in the area, which is home to large number of residential and commercial complexes along the road.

gurgaon Updated: Mar 25, 2019 04:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Sohna Road,Forest department,Gurugram
The state forest department does not plan to carry out compensatory reforestation of the green belts along a 22km stretch of Sohna Road(Yogendra Kumar/HT File PHOTO)

The state forest department does not plan to carry out compensatory reforestation of the green belts along a 22km stretch of Sohna Road, where at least 9,650 trees and over 4,000 plants are presently being felled for the Sohna road elevated corridor project.

This was revealed in a response to an RTI(right to information) application filed by a city-based non-profit organisation in January. A copy of the response is in possession of Hindustan Times.

Experts said this loss of green cover will adversely impact living conditions in the area, which is home to large number of residential and commercial complexes along the road. Residents have also expressed concern over the potential impact the felling of trees on the local air quality and the level of noise pollution, with the elevated road expected to attract over 90,000 vehicles a day (as per the project proposal).

The National Highways Authority of India(NHAI) plans to build an elevated road from Subash Chowk to Badshahpur to reduce congestion and also to upgrade the rest of the road till Sohna by building underpasses and flyovers at major intersections. This will however require the felling of close to 13,000 trees, for which permission has already been granted by the state forest department.

“Urban green spaces have a natural ability to filter air and reduce atmospheric temperature.Tree lines, particularly those adjacent to busy streets, play an important role in acting as a sound barrier,” said Guneet Singh of a non-profit organisation called ‘3min.life’, which filed the RTI application. “With a large forested area being diverted for this project, these benefits will be lost for the residents of Sohna Road, where we have found the average air quality and noise level to be above the safety norms,” he added.

Deepak Nanda, district forest officer, Gurugram, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. However, Naresh Kataria, range forest officer (Sohna), said that the forest department is not bound to carry out any regreening activities in the affected area. “As per the project proposal, the trees are being replanted in other locations such as Reegarh, Agaon, Mahu, Jhimarawat and Nuh. Regreening the affected area would be above and beyond the approved mandate,” he said.

According to Sunil P, a resident of Vipul Greens on Sohna Road, “The elevated road project will attract more vehicles, which will bring in more noise and more pollution. It is disappointing to find that the forest department has not taken any measures to preserve the greenery in the immediate vicinity.”

Other residents questioned the efficacy of transplanting trees in far-off locations. “What we want is in situ, or on site, transplantation of the trees. Why are we sending them to locations that are 30 or 40kms away?,” questioned Deepali?Wadhwa, who resides in Eldeco Mansionz on Sohna Road.

Gurugram has, in the last two year, lost at least 15,000 trees to development activities.

First Published: Mar 25, 2019 04:21 IST