BELGAUM: Over 30,000 fully-grown trees located on either side of the Belgaum-Goa National Highway would be cut, when the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) would take up the project of road widening. According to sources, NHAI plans to widen NH4-A, connecting Belgaum to Goa. Sources from NHAI said it has been proposed to construct a four-lane road passing through private lands with two-lane roads in forest areas. The proposal for the diversion of forest land under Forest Conservation Act 1980 is in the final stage of submission, said a source from NHAI on condition of anonymity.
However, NHAI plans to start road widening work from Macche to Khanapur. Nearly 3,300 trees will be cut in this stretch. It is learnt that during a meeting with NHAI authorities, the Belgaum Forest Department opposed the felling of trees on both sides of the road. Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) Girish Hosur had suggested to clear the trees only on one side of the road, which was turned down by the NHAI.
NHAI Technical Manager Ramanjulu said that the two-lane road from Khanapur to Karnataka-Goa border, coming under the forest area will be a two-lane stretch 45 m wide. It has also come to light that the NHAI has now obtained a valuation report of the trees to be felled from the Forest Department and will call for tenders for clearing them.
It is estimated to fetch over Rs 2 crore as revenue, which will be equally shared between NHAI and the state government, sources said. In forest areas having rich wildlife, NHAI has prepared a proposal for diversion of 77.87 hectares of forest land in Belgaum division.
During the meeting, it was learnt that the DCF had opposed the excess acquisition of forest land than required for the project. He recommended only 33.96 hectares for the project.
However, after a series of meetings with Conservator of Forest and DCF, NHAI has prepared a revised proposal for acquisition of 52.78 hectares of forest land, which will be submitted to the Centre. NHAI Project Director (PD) Samudra Singh was unavailable for comment.