No saplings planted to offset felled trees, says HC on highway expansion

Chennai, Dec 4 (PTI) The Madras High Court has directed the National Highways Authority of India to respond to a plea over maintenance of highways in Tamil Nadu and directed the Centre to answer queries in a batch of petitions on the matter.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation plea from an advocate, A Joseph Sagayaraj, a Division Bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and R Hemalatha said no saplings have been planted after felling trees for expansion of highways.

'It is also brought to the knowledge of this court that while expanding the national high ways, very many century old trees have been cut down...

and as per the norms laid down by the Supreme Court on cutting each full grown trees, the entities concerned have to put up 10 trees and it appears that no trees have been planted,' the Bench observed.

Sagayaraj sought a direction to restrain the NHAI and GMR Tambaram Tindivanam Expressways Private Limited from collecting toll fee from vehicles plying from nearby Tambaram to Tindivanam, about 130 km from here.

Another advocate Chandrasekar, who was allowed by the court to intervene in the matter, submitted that toll plazas does not have proper facilities including sanitation.

Besides, ambulances were also not stationed though it was obligatory for concessionaires to provide basic amenities, he contended.

The bench directed the NHAI to file a counter affidavit and asked the Assistant Solicitor General to answer all queries raised in different, connected writ petitions, with supporting documents and photographs.

It posted the matter to December 16. PTI COR VGN VS VS