UP axed 2,000 trees near Taj
More than 2,000 trees have been axed around hotels near the Taj Mahal to facilitate widening of roads, according to a monitoring committee appointed by the Supreme Court.
The felling of trees is apparently in violation of an undertaking given by the Uttar Pradesh Government before the special environment bench of the Supreme Court.
Asking where the 2,232 trees had disappeared, the monitoring committee said the government could not have gone ahead with the project in 2006 because its application seeking permission to axe the trees is still pending with the court.
The committee members, advocate Kishan Mahajan, R C Trivedi, additional director, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and C S Sharma, senior scientist with the CPCB made the startling revelation in their recent report.
The members said they had personally visited the area on January 19 and found just 100 trees left on the 14 kilometres of roads. The roads have been widened from two lanes to four lanes at some points and to six lanes in other places.
The monitoring committee had brought the issue to the court’s notice in October 2006. Objections were raised on the ground that the project was started without prior permission from the court for extensive destruction of the green belt around the Taj.
A month later, after the court was informed about the road-widening project, the state government moved an application seeking the special bench’s approval for felling about 2,332 trees.
During the hearing, when Mahajan requested a stay, the UP Government counsel gave an undertaking in the court that no tree had been felled and that none would be axed till its application was disposed of.
On January 9, 2008 the special bench directed the UP government to approach the Central Government and Taj Trapezium Authority for an environment assessment certificate.