1,422 trees axed in Bagalkot dist for widening of NH 218

1,422 trees axed in Bagalkot dist for widening of NH 218

A total of 1,422 trees have been axed on either side of the Gaddanakeri Cross-Korti Cross stretch of the Hubballi-Solapur national highway-218, raising the hackles of environmentalists.

The Ministry of Surface Transport is upgrading the highway from Hubballi to Korti (on the outskirts of the district) for 137 km at a cost of Rs 330 crore. The road is being widened from seven metres to 10 metres. The stretch in Bilagi taluk alone accounts for 830 of the trees brought down.

Neem, mango, tamarind, banyan and peepal are among the trees, most of them aged over 50 years, that have been axed. Birds which had made these trees their home are now left without a shelter.

Residents say that the trees on the side of the road could have been spared, widening the highway only on the other side.

Krishna Reddy, assistant executive engineer of the Nargund division of the ministry of surface transport, says they had no option but to axe the trees. Double the number of trees would be planted to compensate for the loss of green cover, Reddy said. Axing trees on just one side would have required acquisition of farmers’ land on the other side, which may have led to protests and litigations.

The official said the contractors had been given time till December 2018 to complete the highway upgrading work. The highway will become a tolled road with a toll booth between Kerur and Halageri, he said. Reddy said the Hubballi-Solapur national highway sees traffic of more than 50,000 vehicles daily.

The 157-km Banapur-Gaddanakeri Cross road is also set for an upgrade after it was announced as a national highway (367), at a cost of Rs 400 crore.
DH News Service

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