More than 1.10 lakh private trees of Apple, Chinar, Walnut, Mullberry among other species valued at Rs 13.76 crore have been chopped down by the NHAI to lay down the Srinagar Ring Road, an RTI reply has revealed.
The response received by RTI activist Raman Sharma from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on his queries said over 1,200 more private trees which form the lush green cover of the Valley will be chopped down in the coming days to build the new tarmac around Srinagar.
The NHAI did not give any estimate of the cost that will be incurred on planting trees along the ring road and said the project is under construction. It further said no plantation has been done till date and that it shall be carried out at later stage.
According to the NHAI, 50,616 trees along avenue and 25,308 trees along median are to be planted as a contract agreement with the EPC contractor for the Srinagar Ring Road project.
The 42.10 km project with a cost of Rs 939.41 crore was awarded by the NHAI to a private company on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode in 2018.
The ring road and bypass project traversing through 52 villages and five districts, including Pulwama, Budgam, Baramula, Srinagar and Bandipora, was to be built in 36 months.
The entire greenfield alignment has been proposed on the western side of Srinagar to provide connectivity to the habitation on that side and provide smooth and easy traffic flow in and around the city.
As part of the similar ring road project in Jammu, 5,707 trees of Chir, Garna, Kamala, Ber, Shisham, Parli, Amla among others will be axed but no “afforestation” will be done by NHAI, the RTI said.
No such compensatory afforestation to be done by NHAI according to the forest clearance obtained under the Jammu and Kashmir Forest Conservation Act, it said.
“However, median and avenue plantation as per IRC SP:21:2009 by the provision plantation shall be done along Jammu Ring Road,” it said. The Indian Road Congress (IRC), an apex body of highway engineers in the country, came out with the standard code procedure related to all aspects of design, construction and maintenance of roads and bridges, road transportation, traffic as well as general aspects of road and bridge engineering.
The foundation stone for the 58.25 km-long Jammu ring road, the estimated cost of which was Rs 1,339 crore, was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 19, 2018.
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