158 trees cut to widen 11 ‘congested’ e-way exits
The Millennium City Expressways Private Limited (MCEPL), the contractor for the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the concessionaire of Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, on Sunday, finished cutting 158 full-grown trees along the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway to widen the 11 entry and exit points at five places.
“The trees are being cut to widen the entry and exit points so that traffic jams can be reduced,” an MCEPL contractor, cutting trees at Sector 31 exit, said.
He added that since some land would also be taken from the green belts maintained by the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority, they would also take permission to fell trees from the civic agency.
Asked about the planned width of the entry and exits, the contractor said they have not been given any specifics and they would “widen it as much as they can”.
The work is being done on behalf of the NHAI, which got permission to fell trees in March this year after it stated that widening the exits was a necessity given the traffic congestion at these points— entry and exit points at Jharsa Chowk, Sector 31, IFFCO Chowk and Rajiv Chowk, and just the entry point at Udyog Vihar.
The NHAI first got permission for the work in 2016, but sought an extension after MCEPL could not fell trees within the allotted time frame.
“As per the MoU signed with MCEPL in the Delhi high court, the trees are being felled for widening the entry and exit points to ease congestion in the five areas,” NHAI project director Ashok Sharma said.
Deepak Nanda, district forest officer could not be reached for comment.
The move, however, has not gone down well with traffic experts and environmentalists who said the felling was unnecessary as the exits were wide enough.
“At all the 11 points, service lanes are wide enough for managing the existing volume of traffic. Authorities need to realise that widening roads is not a solution for traffic management anyway. Instead, they need to focus on introducing traffic lights and letting intersections remain the same instead of replacing them with u-turns. Trees were felled unnecessarily,” programme coordinator, Haryana Vision Zero, Sarika Panda Bhatt said.
“Gurugram has lost more than 15,000 trees in the past two years to various infrastructure projects. The (state) forest laws are extremely weak. Felling of trees hence needs to be done very cautiously,” environmentalist Vaishali Rana Chandra said.
Mihir Kohli, a resident of DLF 5, said, “I haven’t seen any congestion on any of the exit and entry points. It is a surprise that they are widening the road.”
The development comes close on heels of an RTI response revealing that the state forest department has no plan in place for mandatory reforestation needed to offset the tree felling done to build the Sohna road elevated corridor—9,650 trees and 4,000 plants.