The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has requested the removal of approximately 495 trees located along the alignment of the Gurugram-Pataudi-Rewari Expressway, which is being constructed by the authority, to expedite the construction of the expressway project, officials aware of the matter said on Sunday.
Most of these trees are on a private farmhouse whose land was acquired by NHAI for the expressway project. According to forest officials, the owner of the farmhouse in Garhi-Harsaru planted these trees 25 to 30 years ago. On Friday, a team of forest officials also visited the site and assessed the 100-metre stretch of land where these trees are located.
“We checked these trees, and most are 25 to 30 years old. We will assess their condition and determine how many trees must be removed and how many can be transplanted. NHAI has acquired this land to build the road,” said a forest official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The trees that fall along the expressway’s alignment are of various varieties, such as Neem, Ber, Peepal, Mango, Tamarind, Jamun, and Arjun.
The construction of the 46-km-long Gurugram-Pataudi-Rewari Expressway began in July 2020 and was scheduled to be completed in December 2022. The National Green Tribunal halted the project in September 2022 after a petition was filed by environmentalists saying that compensatory afforestation was not carried out. However, on NHAI’s petition, the Supreme Court granted permission to the highway authority in April of this year to resume the project.
An NHAI official said that once completed, the Pataudi-Rewari Expressway will connect with the Dwarka Expressway and then with the Sector 84 road.
According to forest department officials, they have received a request from GMDA (Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority) on behalf of NHAI to fell approximately 495 trees in the alignment of the Gurugram-Rewari Expressway project at Garhi Harsaru.
Harsh Gupta, manager of the farmhouse in Garhi Harsaru, said they had 14 acres of land in this location, seven of which were acquired by the highway authority to construct the expressway. “We have asked for permission from the forest department to transplant a Peepul tree planted in memory of the current owner’s father. We will pay for this transplantation because our memories are linked to this tree,” Gupta said, adding that they are saddened to part with the trees.
The Gurugram forest department said permission will be granted for tree felling only after a detailed survey is completed and the highway authority identifies the land on which compensatory afforestation will be carried out. “We are conducting a thorough survey, and permission will be granted only after land for compensatory afforestation has been identified. We will also try to transplant as many trees as possible,” said Karamvir Singh Malik, range officer for the forest department.