Hundreds of trees axed without nod for Kanakapura Road widening in Karnataka

Forest officials say permission yet to be given to NHAI for axing 548 trees; residents unhappy.

Published: 19th May 2017 04:35 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th May 2017 04:35 AM   |  A+A-

Huge trees on Kanakapura Main Road near Saluhunse village were chopped for road widening | JITHENDRA M

Express News Service

BENGALURU:The road-widening work of Bengaluru-Kanakapura Road on NH 209 is going on at a hectic pace with hundreds of trees being felled on both sides of the highway without permission. Massive old and young trees are being felled and dumped on the roadsides since the project took off this January.

The road is being widened to seven metres while 1.5 metres of shoulder is being added on either side of the road, taking the total width to 10 metres. The predominant tree species that have been chopped include peepal, tamarind, neem, Sissoo (North Indian rosewood), Prosopis juliflora (Mesquite), acacia nilotica and eucalyptus.

Even as felling continues, forest officials say permission is yet to be given for felling of 548 trees between NICE Road junction and Kanakapura taluk. Further, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has to deposit Rs 24 lakh for compensatory afforestation.

Residents and users of this road are disheartened over the tree felling. Rijesh Nair, who was driving to Mysuru on this road last week, was pained at the heavy destruction of shade-giving, flowering and fruit-bearing trees. “The trees were so massive that they may have been 100-150 years old. Does this road require widening at the heavy cost of green cover and destruction of our ecology?” he asked.

For the locals, the heavy felling of trees has taken away their livelihood. Ramesh from Saluhunse village said, “We used to collect a lot of seeds, fruits and firewood, but now that is all gone. Even if they do carry out planting of saplings, where will they plant? Where is the space and how many years will it take for them to grow?”

This 33-km stretch is being converted into a four-lane road starting from NICE Road junction to Kanakapura taluk. After that, the remaining 137km till the Tamil Nadu border (near Chamarajanagar) will be a two-lane road.

DCF (Bengaluru Urban) Deepika Bajpayi told Express that a lot of trees have been felled but for this permission may have come earlier. “I have received a proposal for felling of 550 trees between NICE Road junction and Ramanagara. I am still going through the proposal and permission is yet to be given. In lieu of this, a compensatory afforestation amount of `24 lakh has to be paid by NHAI,” she added.

N Ravindra Kumar, ACF, Bengaluru South sub-division, said, “No permission has been given till date. We are aware that work is going on and trees are being felled and thrown on the roadsides. They are yet to deposit the compensatory afforestation money while we are yet to take a decision on the felling of 548 trees.”

B T Jwalendra, Project Director, NHAI, Ramanagara, told Express that tree enumeration had been completed for this project. “We have submitted an application to the state forest department for felling of 548 trees. I need more time to give other details of the project,” he said.

2000 trees to be felled

As per Environmental Impact Assessment Study by NHAI, the construction of the road will entail felling of 2,341 out of 3,000 trees. This will mean that the micro-ecosystems on the roadside over the years will be lost too. The only mitigation is compensatory afforestation (as per the  MoEFguidelines). The loss of roadside plantations will have to be compensated in accordance with Forest (Conservation) Act. As the highway passes through Kanakapura, Malvalli, Kollegal and Chamarajanagar, diversion of 10.30 hectares of forest land in Ramanagara and Mandya is also required.

ALTERNATIVE ROAD TO MYSURU

Once the four-laning is completed, the road will serve as an alternative road to Mysuru. NH 209 is expected to cut down the distance to Coimbatore compared with the existing road via Krishnagiri.



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