109 trees felled 30m off track, HC seeks re­port from dis­trict of­fi­cials

The New Indian Express - - FRONT PAGE -

AF­TER plac­ing on record that the Union gov­ern­ment will not pro­ceed with land ac­qui­si­tion for the pro­posed 277.30km Chen­nai-Salem Ex­press­way, the Madras High Court has sought re­ports from the Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice, Harur and Dis­trict For­est Of­fi­cer over felling of 109 trees, which were 30 me­tres away from the pro­posed align­ment.

The judges raised con­cern over felling of 109 trees which were 30 me­ters away from the align­ment of the pro­posed Chen­nai-Salem high­way. “The dis­tance is a mat­ter of con­cern be­cause, while mak­ing as­sess­ment, ob­vi­ously the au­thor­i­ties, who make the study, will be un­der the im­pres­sion that the land is a bar­ren land,” a bench of Jus­tices T S Si­vagnanam and V Bha­vani Sub­baroyan said.

The court di­rected the DSP, Harur, to file a re­port on the an­tecedents of the five ac­cused in­volved in felling of trees. It also di­rected the Dis­trict For­est Of­fi­cer to file a re­port as to the modus operandi, which was adopted and as to why ad­e­quate care and pro­tec­tion were not taken to en­sure there was no il­le­gal felling of trees, es­pe­cially when the plot was ad­join­ing the for­est area.

“We make it clear that the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion shall make it known to the au­thor­i­ties con­cerned while mak­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment that 109 trees have been felled. The State gov­ern­ment has taken a pol­icy de­ci­sion to re­plant 10 trees if a tree is felled or re­moved for a par­tic­u­lar project.

“This should be fol­lowed in this case also and steps shall be taken for re-plant­ing 10 trees for each tree felled. We will is­sue fur­ther di­rec­tions on re­ceipt of the re­ports from the DSP, Harur and the DFO con­cerned,” the judges said.

THE land own­ers ex­pressed fears that the gov­ern­ment may go ahead with land ac­qui­si­tion pro­ceed­ings by is­su­ing a no­ti­fi­ca­tion un­der Sec­tion 3D of Na­tional High­ways Act, 1956 af­ter Na­tional High­ways Author­ity of In­dia Project Di­rec­tor in Kancheepuram filed an af­fi­davit on the sta­tus of en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment and the fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies of the project. Sec­tion 3D of the 1956 Act deals with dec­la­ra­tions of ac­qui­si­tion made by the Cen­tre when an ob­jec­tion has not been raised to a project within a stip­u­lated pe­riod.

“The Ad­di­tional Solicitor-Gen­eral G Rajagopalan who ap­peared on be­half of Union of In­dia sub­mits that noth­ing will hap­pen as ap­pre­hended by the pe­ti­tion­ers. The sub­mis­sion is placed on record. The NHAI shall file a flow chart as to what are the steps taken...,” the bench said, while post­ing the case for Septem­ber 20.

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