In the wake of the increase in traffic volume on Chennai-Mumbai highway via Vellore district and the proposed four-lane highway, the state forest department has started an exercise to enumerate trees, which have to be removed.
The work was expected to be completed within a week. The exercise would include trees on all lands, including private patta lands, which were likely to be acquired by NHAI.
However, what surprised officials was the lack of opposition to the project compared to the resistance for the Rs 10,000-crore Chennai–Salem green corridor in nearby Tiruvannamalai district. Even at grievances meetings, a key point insisted by land owners was that they should be paid the same compensation as proposed by the government for the green corridor project.
Meanwhile, a traffic survey undertaken by a private agency on the advice of the central government’s highways and shipping ministry a week ago revealed that on an average 18,000 vehicles used the Chennasamudram-Mutharasikuppam stretch, every day. Though the proposed 150-foot wide four-lane stretch would cross 16 villages, those in the know of things lamented that centuries-old trees might face the axe despite NHAI promising to abide by a 2014 MHC order, mandating to plant 10 trees for every tree cut down.