Jalandhar, Punjab: More than 23,000 trees will be uprooted to make way for the proposed 82-km four- lane road connecting Ropar, Nawanshahr and Phagwara.
The widening oft he Jalandhar-Chandigarh highway, ambitious project of the state government, will kill more than 116 hectares of forest in the name of development. The forest divisions of Garhshankar and Jalandhar have mentioned it in the report to the state government and public works department (PWD), which is project’s executing agency.
The state government had decided to develop the road connecting Ropar, Balachaur, Nawanshahr and Phagwara into an express highway of four lanes to make commuting from the Doaba region to Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport in Mohali easier.
Neem, poplar, amla, eucalyptus, sukhchain and other varieties of trees on this route will be cut. “It is a one of the major green belts in Punjab,” said an official in the forest department.
The area includes Behram, Banga, Balachaur and Kathgarh areas of Nawanshahr district and a few areas near Phagwara. “It will take a few hours to cut trees and kill the forest but decades to restore the green cover,” said the official.
Details gathered from Jalandhar forest division that includes Nawanshahr, Banga and Phagwara suggest that more than 12,000 trees and almost 75-hectare forest will be cut for widening the road in just that zone. The Garhshankar division covering parts of Nawanshahr, Balachaur, and Kathgarh will lose more than 11,000 trees and more than 41-hectare forest.
“The report is based on tree count and forest-area measurement,” said Jalandhar division forest officer Vishal Chauhan. “The department will plant 10 times more saplings.” Garhshankar DFO Surjeet Singh Gill said the executing agency will provide the department with matching land and pay the cost of chopped trees. Chief parliamentary secretary for forests Chaudhary Nand Lal said the department was prepared to take the blow, since it had lakh of saplings in stock to plant in place of the trees.