Tamil Nadu

Felling of 877 trees for Cuddalore-Madapattu Road widening work begins

Trees being cut down for widening of the Cuddalore-Madapattu section of State Highway under the Chennai-Kanniyakumari Industrial Corridor project.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Hundreds of fully grown decades-old trees, including two species under Near Threatened Category, are being felled for road widening and improvement of State Highway Roads covering 37 km from Cuddalore to Madapattu under the Chennai-Kanniyakumari Industrial Corridor Project.

The main road is proposed to be widened to two-lane to Madapattu with paved shoulders, for which trees lining the road on both sides need to be felled as per an Initial Environmental Examination submitted by the Highways and Minor Ports Department.

The project also involves one bypass at Panruti, one major bridge, four minor bridges and 77 culverts for the road.

The Department has enumerated a total of 877 trees with girth over 30 centimetres on both sides of the road to be brought down.

An official of the Highways Department said that a large number of trees had already been felled by contractors for the project. Each mature tree felled would be replaced with 10 saplings, he claimed.

Most of the trees are more than 60 years old and the species that face the axe include banyan, Movingui, golden shower, peepal tree, fig, amla, mahua, teak, black siris, sweet tamarind, mango, Indian cork tree, black plum, Indian mulberry, among others.

“After Cuddalore district’s green cover was lost due to Cyclone Thane in 2011, trees were planted on important stretches. But now all these native trees will be wiped out to widen the road,” T. Arul Selvam, an environmentalist said.

Two tree species namely mahogany and red sandalwood are categorised as Near Threatened according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) list.

“While authorities make tall claims of replanting mature trees felled for development projects, there is no follow-up action. Authorities should stop felling the trees without following proper procedure for planting fresh saplings,” he said.

Activists claim that planting of 10 saplings for every tree felled is not an effective compensation.

Availability of lands is a major issue and in most instances there is no follow-up by the competent authority. Though saplings are planted they disappear after a few months due to lack of periodic monitoring and maintenance, an activist points out.

According to Vengadapathy, a farmer of Melpattambakkam, “In the name of development and expansion, trees are being indiscriminately cut. The lost resource could never be regained”, he said, adding that the authorities should come forward to translocate the mature trees marked for felling.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 4:35:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/felling-of-877-trees-for-cuddalore-madapattu-road-widening-work-begins/article34960414.ece

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