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33,776 Trees to be Cut for Upper Ganga Canal Road in Uttar Pradesh

The Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department intends to clear 33,776 trees for a road construction project along the Upper Ganga Canal, prompting environmental apprehensions. Despite plans for afforestation to offset the ecological impact

By Ground report
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The Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department plans to remove 33,776 trees for road construction along the Upper Ganga Canal, sparking controversy and environmental concerns.

The number of trees to be felled may be less than estimated, as cutting will be limited to a 15-meter width in lower embankment areas. To compensate for the use of 222.98 hectares of protected forest land, 445.96 hectares of non-forest land is required, posing a significant challenge due to its unavailability in Ghaziabad, Meerut, and Muzaffarnagar districts. Afforestation efforts are being undertaken in three other districts to address this issue.

The issue arose after a Hindustan Times report on February 1, 2024, revealed the permission to remove about 112,000 trees for road construction along the Upper Ganga Canal in Uttar Pradesh, prompting the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to take legal action.

During the initial hearing on March 13, the NGT directed the UP forest department and district magistrates to provide detailed responses about the trees and plants earmarked for felling. The department's report revealed that the felling activity would affect approximately 222.98 hectares across three districts.

UP officials clarified that compensatory afforestation will address concerns by planting 484,720 saplings in Lalitpur, Mirzapur, and Sonbhadra districts, and 21,028 plants in the Meerut district/forest division. The total budget allocated is approximately ₹28.6 crore.

Environmental activists remain skeptical about the road construction project's impact on the region's ecology, citing the influx of travelers during the annual Kanwar Yatra pilgrimage.

The ₹658-crore project aims to construct two new lanes along the western embankment of the Upper Ganga Canal. The UP Public Works Department will execute the project, funded by the state government. Questions persist about the road's classification, prompting the NGT to request clarification from the authorities.

UP officials said the road connecting Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, and Ghaziabad will be 111.49 km long and categorized as 'other district road (ODR).'

As the tribunal seeks more information from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the project's fate and its environmental implications remain uncertain.

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