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At Modi's Behest, Machines to Replant Trees for Highway Development

Published: 13th October 2014 12:45 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th October 2014 12:45 AM   |  A+A-

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By IANS

NEW DELHI: "Trees will have to be cut," is the constant hurdle when it comes to highway development and other infrastructure project. The solution lies in replanting even fully-grown trees as has been done in Gujarat, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari says.

The trees are picked up, roots intact, by a sophisticated machine from construction sites to the safety of a new home where the tress soon settle. The idea, Gadkari said, came from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Nitin tuh phade mat todh (Nitin d'ont fell tress, development at this cost is too high) Modi said to me," Gadkari told IANS.

According to Gadkari, his ministry is planning a number of environment friendly steps to ease the environment lobby's pressure on the infrastructure development projects that are crucial for Modi's development agenda.

All it takes are four-blade spades mounted on trucks or trailers. The hydraulically-operated units dig amd lift the trees and carry them to the re-planting site. A skilled operator can transplant at least six to ten trees a day. Each machine costs Rs.75 lakh, excluding the value of the vehicle.

The technology is used in the Asia-Pacific, South America, Europe and Mexico.

Seven units are in operation in Gujarat by the likes of Adani Mining, Gujarat Alkalie, Jindal Steel, Essar and the state forestry department.

"The units are used in forestry, landscaping and mining and in the construction of highways and pipelines. The end-users are satisfied. The forestry department is very pleased that they no longer need to cut down tees" Aprille Browne, regional manager (Asia Pacific) of Dorian Drake, the company which manufacturers the spades, told IANS.

"The first unit we sold was to Essar. It is currently being used by the forestry department. The Gujarat chief minister (Narendra Modi) at the time attended the inauguration ceremony for this spade as we heard that he was the one who encouraged companies in India to stop the process of cutting down trees and, instead, find a method to replant them," Browne told IANS.

The environment lobby still doubts the technology, stating that the initiative will still not prevent landslides, air and water pollution and climate change impacts due to industrial projects.

"Its highly likely that it could end up wasting public money and not give any positive outcome for the environment. The success of re-plantation itself is highly questionable. Even if you keep that aside, what they are not considering is loss of biodiversity, loss of water sources, soil erosion and loss of livelihood for people dependent on the forests in that area," Nandikesh Sivalingam of Greenpeace India told IANS.

However, Browne feels that re-forestation and re-plantation go hand-in-hand.

"Where trees need to be moved due to new construction or other requirements, for example digging a coal mines, they can be replanted instead of being cut down. It is also a great idea to plant new trees in schools, universities, parks and homes, wherever space allows," Browne added.



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