CHENNAI: An estimated 19,000 trees are likely to be felled by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to build phase-3 of the Bengaluru-Chennai expressway connecting Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh and Sriperumbudur in Kancheepuram.
An expert appraisal committee of the Union Environment Ministry recommended for an environment clearance in this regard. The 106 km-long expressway is proposed to pass through Mahimandalam reserved forest area, and the Arcot range in Vellore forest division. About 5.42 hectares of reserve forest land is proposed to be diverted for the project, for which a stage-1 (in principle) clearance has been obtained from State authorities.
As per assessment, there are 16,954 non-forest trees and 2,058 forest trees along the proposed road. Officials said about 1.70 lakh trees will be planted in consultation with the forest department to offset the tree loss. “Efforts will be taken to restrict felling within formation width. The project will ensure a smooth flow of traffic, which will reduce emissions. Better connectivity between Bengaluru and Chennai will act as a link between major commercial, industrial centres of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu,” officials said.
The expert appraisal committee has recommended for an environmental clearance to be obtained before imposing specific conditions, including developing a green belt in non-forest land. Another condition put forth is to carry the work in such a way that the heritage and old trees supposed to be affected are saved. Official documents show a total area of 1,085 hectares of land is proposed to be acquired for the project, out of which 5.42 hectares is forest land, 833.913 hectares is private land, 107.424 hectares is surface waterbodies, and 138.396 hectares is other government land. An approximate 52 per cent of the land to be acquired comes under agricultural land.