Road widening claims trees, people upset

Eyebrows have been raised by nature enthusiasts and environmentalists as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has cut down some big age-old trees for widening the road between Coimbatore and Pollachi. The incident of tree chopping has severely disappointed both the public and activists.
Road widening claims trees, people upset
Trees being felled due to the road widening work on the NH between Coimbatore and Pollachi

Chennai

According to sources, the NHAI sent a proposal two years ago for widening the existing road. However, the officials found it difficult to begin the work due to difficulties in land acquisition. Further, the department conducted an inspection and studied possible impact on traffic, accidents, service roads and the environment. 
Speaking to DTNext , Ezhil, Assistant Engineer, National Highways, Coimbatore, said that they had no option but to cut down the trees. “We took environmental impact into consideration and the axe had to fall on some trees. We were under compelling circumstances because these trees were in the middle of the road which is sought to be widened to cope with increasing traffic,” he said. He also clarified that they planned their work very carefully and had not disturbed many trees along the stretch. 
The Pollachi road often witnesses traffic snarls and there is need to widen the road along a stretch of 40 kilometres. “The stretch witnesses many accidents and traffic density is gradually on the rise. So, we are forced to undertake widening work. However, we faced a lot of difficulties in acquiring land for this and finally we made it,” the engineer said.  The road had two lanes and they had undertaken the work to create four lanes. V Prabakar, Organiser, 
Osai Environmental Organisation, Coimbatore, said that though road widening was imperative, the officials concerned should find an alternative alignment instead of axing the valuable trees. “The officials can leave the trees intact and those trees can be made into a median. 
Such trees are very old and it will be difficult to plant saplings and maintain them in the coming years,” he said and pointed out that many trees had already been cut down on the stretch between Coimbatore and Mettupalayam during widening of road.  When DTNext contacted, Archana Patnaik, District Collector, Coimbatore, claimed that they had taken strong measures to protect trees. “However, it was inevitable to cut down some trees and we have planted many trees to compensate for the loss,” she said.

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