NH 169A widening: Public, greens oppose tree felling

Public and environmentalists have opposed the felling of 140 trees for the widening of NH 169 A, between Manipal and Parkala, at a public hearing organised at forest range office in Adi Udupi.

Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Lohith,  range forest officer (in-charge) Udupi Gopal A, environment activists, residents from Udupi and Manipal attended the hearing.

National highway officials claimed that the trees were posing hurdles along the highway. In 2014, the NH officials had submitted a detailed project report (DPR) to Centre on the widening of Thirthahalli-Malpe at an estimated cost of Rs 636 crore.

Green crusader Premanand Kalmadi lamented that the public hearing was held after the DPR was submitted. The felling of 140 trees will have a negative impact on the ecology, he expressed concern.

Environment activist Balakrishna Maddodi said a joint survey by forest department officials and the public should be conducted to save as many as trees possible and demanded that the transplantation of felled trees should be permitted by the government.

Rayn Fernandes of youth coordinator of Native Organisation  (YCNO) charged that trees have been already felled and sold illegally without the forest department officials being aware of it.

He said the project will encounter the wrath of public due to large-scale destruction of the trees.

ACF Lohith said the issue will be looked into and he will explore the possibilities of conducting a survey jointly with the public.

Members of National Environment Care Federation (NECF) also submitted objections against the felling of the trees to DCF, Kundapura division through an
email.

NECF, in an e-mail to DCF, informed that Karnataka suffers from water crisis every year and the National Highway Authority should not be allowed to indiscriminately axe the trees.

NECF’s email also objected to the widening of the road by felling trees. “Widening the present road into a four-lane road is unnecessary because there is no traffic on the present road NH169A. No environment impact assessment study has been conducted for NH169A widening from Thirthahalli to Udupi even though this region (Western Ghats and Coastal region ) falls under one of the eight biodiversity hotspots in the world,”  Sashidar Shetty of NECF said.

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