Roads & buildings dept to axe 1,000 trees for road-widening
National Highways department sanctions Rs 310 crore to have connectivity between NH 44 Road at Bellary Bypass and Chennai Highway Road at Pangal Road on the outskirts of Anantapur
Anantapur:: Tree plantation and tree felling are both sides of the same coin in our society. One department engages in plantation while another government department indulges in tree felling. Two decades ago, there was no value for greenery in the district but awareness on appreciating greenery grew during the past one decade. Even AP Transco cuts down massive tree branches frequently to prevent tree branches from touching power cables and tripping and disrupting power supply.
Roads and Buildings department is all set to cut down 1,000 trees between Rapthadu Y Junction and Anantapur town in the district for road widening works. The widening of road, which was proposed long ago, has finally gained momentum. R&B officials have taken measures to remove the trees on either side of the road as part of widening project.
The National Highways sanctioned Rs 310 crore to have connectivity between NH 44 Road at Bellary Bypass and Chennai Highway Road at Pangal Road on the outskirts of Anantapur. The expansion will be 9.2 kms long and pass through Collectorate Road, Suryanagar Road, Subhash Road and Clock Tower towards Bellary Bypass Road. For the civil works, Rs 272 crore was allotted.
The R&B officials have sought permission from the Forest Department to cut down the trees. DFO G Krupakar told The Hans India that the R&B officials sought clearance from the forest department to cut down trees for facilitating road expansion works. He clarified that forest lands are not involved in the present case. However, the R&B Department has to compensate the loss by planting saplings at alternative places.
After road widening, the R&B will have to plant saplings on either side of road and it has to bear the nourishment cost of plants for a period of three years, the DFO said. Tenders have been called for road widening at an estimated cost of Rs 310 crore. It is learnt that the affected people, who lost their property due to road widening, are yet to get compensation.
The road project estimated to cost Rs 310 crore is set to spell doom for hundreds of more than 50-year-old tamarind and neem trees that line the road on either side between Rapthadu Y Junction and Anantapur Town. Activists are up in arms as word has spread about the imminent cutting of gigantic trees that turn the two-lane leafy highway into a shady boulevard. Several trees have already been cut and their stumps can be seen lying on the road. For others, earthwork is going on to create space for the road. To stop the tree cutting, two sets of petitions are doing the rounds online for judicial intervention.
"The entire stretch is full of tamarind and neem trees that are very large and old, and form ecosystems unto themselves. There are no such tree clusters left anywhere in the 6 km radius of Anantapur. If they die, a part of Anantapur heritage dies with them. Translocation is not an option. Climate change is another important reason. We need to stop cutting down trees, a lot of damage has already been done," says Dr M Suresh Babu, president, Residential Welfare Association. He said that a public interest petition is under consideration.
"Why can't the trees be used as a median by acquiring land on the other side? It will become a landmark and can even be provided as a solution to rampant tree felling during road widening projects to other states. The road can become an attraction," says P Naveen Kumar, civil engineer.