HYDERABAD: The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Zone, Chennai, has ordered the Central and Telangana governments to submit reports, after taking suo moto cognisance of a story published in the columns of The New Indian Express, which said that 3,000 trees were at risk of being axed for a road-widening project in Telangana. The NGT asked the representatives of the Centre and the State to appear before it on Tuesday.
The story published in Express on June 18 stated that thousands of trees, including 1,300 of the teak variety (of which 200 are more than 1 metre in girth) would need to be felled as per a new road-widening proposal inside the Eco-Sensitive Zone of the Kawal Tiger Reserve — at a location where tiger movement has been confirmed by the State Forest Department officials. Forest clearance was sought from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) based on the proposal.
Widening of NH-61
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had proposed to widen a stretch of road on National Highway-61 between Nirmal and Khanapur at a cost of Rs141 crore, for which it had sought clearance for the diversion of 17.4 Ha of forest land — 12.8 Ha in Nirmal forest division and 4.6 Ha in Khanapur forest division. The diversion is being considered for a stretch of 7.7 km. The road to be widened is located adjacent to the Mamda Reserved Forest in Nirmal and the Maskapur Reserved Forest in Khanapur.
Taking a serious view of the prospect of felling of trees, the NGT, in its recent order, said that it was satisfied that the substantial question of environment protection arose and that the matter required its intervention. The Tribunal said it needed to consider the nature of impact the clearances would have on the Kawal Tiger Reserve.
17.4 Ha to be cleared
Clearance has been sought for the diversion of 17.4 Ha of forest land in Nirmal and Khanapur. The road to be widened is located next to Mamda and Maskapur reserved forests