About 268 trees are likely to be axed inside Thirutheri reserve forest in Chengalpattu range on Chennai's outskirts for erection of a 230 KV high-voltage transmission line.
The project proposed by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO), will connect Cuddalore and Veerapuram in Kancheepuram district via Thirutheri reserve forest. An application has been submitted requesting to divert about 12 acres (5.06 hectares) of the reserve forest for the purpose.
TANGEDCO officials said forest area diversion was kept to a bare minimum and the alignment was revised for this purpose. "Initially, the transmission line was to pass through Chettipunnaiyam reserve forest in Chengalpattu range as well, but some changes were made in the alignment to bring down the impact on forests," said an official.
A total of 1,100 meters with 46 meters width of Right of Way (RoW) will pass through the reserve forest. The proposal has been recommended at all levels of the Tamil Nadu government and District Forest Officer of Chengalpattu forest division has also given No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the forest area diversion, sources told the Express.
However, the Regional Empowered Committee (REC) of Union Environment Ministry, during its 37th meeting held at the Office of Deputy Director-General of Forests in Chennai on August 21, has found some discrepancies in the project proposal and deferred it.
As per the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, whenever forest area is diverted for non-forestry activity, the project proponent should carry compensatory afforestation in double the forest land diverted. Accordingly, TANGEDCO has proposed to carry out afforestation in 10.12 hectares of degraded forest area in Appur reserve forest in Kancheepuram division with an estimated amount of Rs 6.10 crore. The union ministry's committee observed that the budget of Rs 6.10 crore is high and asked TANGEDCO to review it.
Also, the State government has reported that 214 trees are to be felled in the forest area for diversion. However, DFO, in the online application, has uploaded details of 268 trees. "Hence, differences may be reconciled and actual numbers of trees to be felled under the project many be informed," the union environment ministry's committee said.