RTI reveals no replantation after uprooting trees for road widening
An application was filed with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking the details of the trees uprooted in the course of implementation of road widening projects.
In its reply, NHAI has stated that a total of 7, 214 trees had to be uprooted on National Highway 68 (NH-68) in NH-68alone. Out of these, 883 trees were felled from point 0 to 18; 3,714 trees were felled in the second portion between point 18 to 74; 1,664 trees were felled in the third section between point 74 to 117 and 953 trees were uprooted on the stretch between point 117 to 132. The reply further states that the contractor had not started the work of replanting saplings along the stretch and was in the process of clearing the rows for taking up plantation.
It is been alleged that the NHAI has been assigning contracts for collecting toll without fulfilling the obligatory norm of planting saplings. Contractors are required to plant at least ten saplings for each tree uprooted.
Mr. I.G. Reddy, Chief General Manager (Technical), NHAI, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, has informed that NHAI had planted nearly 20 lakh saplings in the last 10 years. He accepted that planting of saplings was not done on the Salem stretch.