Much to the chagrin of city environmentalists, the 80-year-old banyan tree was on Tuesday axed in order to widen the Samrala-Ferozepur Road expressway.
The incident has triggered an outrage among green activists of the city. They said the green cover of the city was being destroyed in the name of development.
Amandeep Singh Bains, founding member of Rajguru Bhagat Singh Sukhdev (RBS) Roots, an organisation working for the environment, reached the spot and condemned the move. “It takes a generation to grow a tree like this. It was indeed painful to see trees being perished,” he said.
The environmentalist said the felling of trees was a double whammy for nature lovers of the city.
The green volunteers, who had launched a massive campaign in 2016-17 against the cutting of trees on Ferozepur Road, were taken for a ride as all 675 trees that were transplanted had run dry due callous attitude of the forest department and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
The axing of trees had become a major issue in 2018 after city-based NGOs approached the National Green Tribunal and requested it to put the construction work on Ferozepur Road-Samrala Chowk elevated road project on hold in order to save the green cover.
Initially, it was decided to relocate 2,000 trees. The number was revised to 1,122 later and due to high transplantation cost, another revision was considered.
In the final assessment, it was decided to transplant only 675 trees at a cost of ₹10,000 per unit.
Project officer of the forest department, Amritpal Singh, said 961 trees have been cut on either side of the stretch between Jagraon Bridge and Sidhwan Canal.
A 12.951-km elevated road is coming up between Ferozepur Road (NH 95) and Samrala Chowk at a cost of ₹756 crore.
The project has remained in controversy ever since the work began in October 2017.
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