Special Correspondent

For every tree to be felled during expansion of NH-67

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to plant 10 saplings for every tree to be felled during the expansion of NH-67 between Karur and Coimbatore.

The First Bench comprising Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice K. Chandru gave the direction on a public interest litigation petition filed by the Tamilaga Girama Vivasayigal Sangam, which said large-scale felling of trees would badly affect the biosphere and ecology.

In November last, the Bench restrained the NHAI from felling any trees on the stretch, and in December constituted an experts committee to ascertain the feasibility of afforestation as well as relocation of trees.

After field visits, the committee did not recommend relocation of trees but suggested a slight shift of central line of the proposed road, which would save a large number of trees besides smoothening the curves in many places. The move would entail acquisition of private barren lands without causing damage to infrastructure, the experts said.

The committee did not object to the felling of 62 trees out of the 134 planned by the NHAI. Furnishing a sketch showing a change of alignment to avoid cutting of trees, Assistant Solicitor-General P. Wilson suggested that while felling of some trees was inevitable, the NHAI was concerned about the ecological impact. It was willing to re-plant more number of trees than what would be felled.