At least 3,490 trees will be razed down to make way for the 8-lane Delhi-Panipat Highway, revealed a RTI response by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
The authority, in response to environmental activist Shubham Khatri's query also revealed that the 8-lane NH1 project does not require environmental clearance.
The project involves 8-laning of NH-1, for about 70.5 km, from Mukarba Chowk to Panipat in Haryana, to de-congest Delhi.
Rs 55.62 crore have been deposited by the NHAI to the Forest Departments in both Delhi and Haryana, and Rs 17 lakh has been received by the authority from the contractor in Delhi section.
Speaking to The Quint, Khatri said that depositing money to the Forest Department does not make the cut.
"“It is not mandatory for the department to invest the money received in that particular area only. The money, if it is invested in planting saplings, could also be invested in planting them in other areas and not particularly the NH-1.”" - Shubham Khatri, Environmental Activist
He also added that the ministry has not framed any specific policy regarding the planting of saplings as substitutes for trees being cut.
Battle to Save Delhi's Trees
In a major controversy, the National Building Construction Corporation India in June 2018, asked for permission to chop over 14,000 trees in the national capital for various development projects.
However, the proposal led to an ongoing court battle and is currently stalled due to weeks-long protests by the Delhi citizens.
Earlier in January, the NBCC again wrote to Delhi's Forest Department, seeking permission to cut down 1,955 trees in Netaji and Sarojini Nagar. This was reportedly turned down.
India hosts 15 out of 20 most polluted cities in the world with Gurugram and Ghaziabad being the most polluted cities in the world followed by Faridabad, Bhiwadi and Noida being in top six with Delhi on the 11th spot.
On an average day, Delhi’s AQI is well above 300, which is above the safety limit of 100.
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