As many as 18,489 trees will be cut for widening two stretches of 90 km of National Highway 17 between Kundapur and Surathkal and between Nanthoor Circle in Mangalore City and Talapady.
The State Department of Forests has given permission to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for cutting trees, sources in the NHAI told The Hindu.
Rs. 84 lakh deposited
The NHAI has deposited Rs. 84.22 lakh with the Forest Department for compensatory afforestation at a rate of Rs. 94,000 per km to maintain ecological balance, the sources said.
In addition, the sources said, the NHAI has to transfer 50 per cent of the sale proceeds, that is, profit earned by sale of trees to the Forest Department along with forest development tax.
The NHAI has invited bids for “taking away the salvage in the form of timber and firewood of felled trees'' with September 1 being the deadline for submitting them, the sources said.
They said that 17,160 trees will be cut under the jurisdiction of the office of the Deputy Conservator of Forests of Kundapur. It has deposited Rs. 68.15 lakh with this office for compensatory afforestation. While 1,329 trees will be axed under the jurisdiction of Deputy Conservator of Forests, Dakshina Kannada, for which Rs. 16.7 lakh has been deposited.
Vijayakumar Shetty, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Dakshina Kannada, said that the Forest Department will plant saplings only if enough space is available on roadsides. Otherwise, saplings will be planted on the available space in any area near the highway.
Some saplings were planted on the highway side this rainy season, he said.
The NHAI has proposed to widen the two stretches of the highway under build, operate and transfer (BoT) basis. The project is estimated to cost Rs. 674 crore. It will be managed by the contract agency for 25 years. It includes collection of toll and other maintenance works.
Navayuga-KPCL Consortium has bagged the contract to widen the highway.
The NHAI has proposed to widen it under phase III of the National Highway Development Project (NHDP).