Tuesday, August 21, 2012

35,000 trees to be cut for road widening

Nearly 35,000 trees will have to be felled to make way for widening of the 223-km long National Highway 218 that passes through Bijapur, Humnabad and Gulbarga, affecting the already thin forest cover in the region.

Bijapur, Gulbarga and Bidar have a negligible forest area of three per cent. In such a scenario felling of trees will have an adverse effect on the annual rainfall, temperature and flora and fauna in the three districts, say environmentalists.

The mass chopping of trees will have a negative impact on the annual rainfall in the three districts, which now ranges from 50 to 60 cm of rainfall, the lowest in the entire state. The loss of greenery will also increase temperature in the arid districts, which now stands at 45 deg celsius, they added.

In addition to large-scale felling of trees, the road-widening project will eat its way into 2.16 ha of protected forest area.

Of the reserved forest area, 1.8 ha of land is in Gulbarga district which has a forest cover of three per cent, as against 23 per cent of the State average. Whereas the remaining 0.36 ha of protected forest is in Bidar district. However, the National Forest Policy puts the ideal forest cover at 33 per cent, rued green activists.

The Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report (Draft EIA) of the project has been prepared by Vitya Consultants Pvt Ltd, Secunderabad for the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

A environment public hearing to seek clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for the project will be held in Gulbarga on August 25.

Expressing dismay over the implementation of the project in the garb of development, Deepak Gala, Hyderabad Karnataka Environment Awareness and Protection Organisation president, has filed an objection demanding that the alignment of the road-widening project be reconsidered to reduce damage to the environment.

However, the project authorities have submitted their applications to the Department of Forests for acquiring the reserved forest area.

Source: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/272785/35000-trees-cut-road-widening.html