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Highways authority under the scanner

Staff Reporter
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Forest Department serves notices for ‘violation’ of eco-norms

Bleak future:The dried-up saplings along National Highway - 65 in Nalgonda district on Thursday.- Photo: Singam Venkataramana
Bleak future:The dried-up saplings along National Highway - 65 in Nalgonda district on Thursday.- Photo: Singam Venkataramana

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) violated norms in taking up plantation and raising them along the 150 km. stretch of NH-65 (previously called as NH-9)) after four-laning it in Nalgonda district.

The Forest Department has served notices twice to NHAI officials but got no response so far.

According to Forest Department officials, the department in Nalgonda district permitted the NHAI to fell 8,070 trees located on both sides of the road starting from the 40 km. milestone near Hyderabad to 190 km. milestone after Kodad with few conditions in 2008, which they violated.

According to notice served to the NHAI Project Officer, Hyderabad, the NHAI has to plant same species or species suitable to the land and local atmosphere along with NH. The plantation should be taken up in double the numbers to that were felled.

The NHAI felled trees like Holopetelea Integrefolia, Aliantyhus Excelsa and Neem (Azadirachta Indica) but they planted Peltophorum and others, which are not suitable here. According to agreement, the NHAI had to plant the saplings grown for three to four years in a nursery, but currently planted saplings are hardly six months old.

Furthermore, the NHAI failed to take any protection measures to save the plants as most of them either dried up or were eaten by animals. The agreement tells that the NHAI had to plant the saplings in the presence and agreement of respective forest range officer, but they had approached none and went on planting whatever they want without following the guidelines in place.

Principle Chief Conservator of Forests, Hyderabad, served a notice asking the NHAI to submit a report to the Forest Department over the number of plants planted, type of plants, protective measures taken up etc., but the NHAI had failed to respond.

The then Divisional Forest Officer D. Sudhakar Reddy served another notice in November last asking the same, but the NHAI failed to furnish the details sought.

Now, Mr. Reddy is transferred to another division and the incumbent DFO is preparing to approach the office of Principle Chief Conservator Officer seeking an action against the erring NHAI. The guidelines also say that the NHAI should take up plantations within 30 days after felling the trees, but even this was found violated.

These violations fall under Andhra Pradesh Water, Land, Trees Act and Rules, 2002, and AP Protection of Trees and Timber in Public places, 1989.


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