The Tribune – Twenty thousand trees being axed along Ropar-Phagwara highway

Aakanksha N Bhardwaj, Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, 18 June 2017. As many as 20,977 trees and 1,213 plants are being axed in the name of the development along the Ropar-Nawanshahr-Banga-Phagwara stretch.

The trees are being cut for the diversion of 109.9 hectares of forestland in favour of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for the four-laning of the stretch.

Vishal Chauhan, District Forest Officer (DFO), Nawanshahar, said almost every variety of tree was being cut, but majority were eucalyptus, sheesham and drek.

For compensatory afforestation, 219.8 hectares will be covered where a total of 21,98,042 trees will be planted in one year.

However, official sources said no plan had been made yet for compensatory plantation and it could take another year to start the process.

The areas where compensatory plantation will take place are Chandiani Kalan (91 hectares), Balowal Saunkri (44 hectares), Banah (45 hectares) and Raipur (40 hectares) under the Nawanshahr forest division.

Besides, 17,400 saplings will also be planted on the both sides of the above stretch.

Sources also informed that the trees are being cut at faster pace because National Green Tribunal (NGT) is going to impose ban on felling of trees in a day or two.

Kuldeep Kumar, principal Chief conservator, forests said that NHAI has given funds and soon the plantation work will started on the degraded land.

Expressing concern, Balbir Singh Seechewal, a renowned environmentalist and Padma Shri awardee, said: “I have observed that trees are being axed for development, but no new trees are planted, which will prove detrimental to the environment. The authorities should plant 20 times the number of trees getting axed.”


The Tribune – Give priority to ecology, Seechewal to parties

Tribune News Service

Ropar, 18 September 2016. Environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal has reiterated his demand that political parties should include environment protection in their manifestos for the forthcoming elections in the state.

Seechewal, who is known for resurrecting the 110-km-long Kali Bein rivulette with the help of his followers without any help from the government, said getting clean air, water and pure food was the right of people and the political parties should work to ensure this.

The environmentalist, while interacting with mediapersons during the medical check-up and blood donation camp organised by Baba Gazi Das Club at Rod Majra village near here yesterday, said the issue of environment protection should be the top priority.

He urged people to vote for those parties which promised to take steps in this regard.