Gurgaon's death warrant: Cut down trees, make way for underpasses!

By Anil Manchanda
Photo: Anil Manchanda
Posted: Nov 30, 2016

At a time when people are clamouring to plant more trees in the city to curb pollution, Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has decided to cut down about 5,000 of them! This, it says, is for constructing underpasses at Rajiv Chowk, Iffco Chowk and Signature Tower.   

In fact, the process has already begun. On November 28, HUDA cut down several trees on the Signature Tower-HUDA City Centre main road. Its horticulture wing had begun a survey of trees to be axed down six months back.

While HUDA claimed it was doing so to improve social infrastructure — to ease traffic congestion — residents and environmentalists are worried about the impact of such action.

Environmentalist CR Bishnoi, also former executive engineer with MCG's horticulture wing, says, “As more and more trees are cut down, the air quality, too, will witness a sharp fall. The air is becoming poisonous, and all we see in the city are high-rises. The traffic, too, is always increasing — all the more reason for us to protect our trees."

Environmental analyst Chetan Aggarwal opines, “Green belts are important buffers against pollution. They must be divided into essential and temporary. The essential areas should be off-limits even for infrastructure projects. Gurgaon seriously needs to rework its master plan."

The Gurgaon Master Plan, 2031, says that, if required, green belts can be modified to widen roads.

HUDA, on its part, has said it will also plant more trees. The officials, however, added that winter was not a good time to plant new saplings, so the process could start only in the summers and continue into the monsoons.

VK Nirala, executive engineer, horticulture department, HUDA, said, “We will send a proposal to the forest department about afforestation. Saplings will be planted along the Northern and the Southern peripheral roads."  

However, residents have not reacted well to HUDA's plans. They have taken the matter to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

Vivek Kamboj, president of Hariyali, an NGO working in the field of environment, said, "We have taken our complaints to the CM's office. The number of trees cut down is more than what's required for the underpass. Sector 29 is already very congested, so more trees should be planted to bring down pollution levels there. Instead, HUDA is doing the opposite."   

TAGS: Haryana Urban Development Authority / HUDA / Rajiv Chowk / Iffco Chowk / Signature Tower / Underpass / Pollution / MCG / Horticulture / Northern Peripheral Road / Southern Peripheral Road / Manohar Lal Khattar / Chief Minister