Last choice for any project is to cut trees: Gadkari

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Nagpur: Union surface transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari has assured people of giving full support to the protection of trees and the environment in the news that could help ruffled environmentalists. The two-time town MP, speaking exclusively to TOI, said cutting trees “was always the last choice for any project.” Gadkari spoke a day after the municipal authorities decided to drop plans to build a road through flourishing biodiversity in the city’s Bharat Nagar area owned by Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV).

Calling himself an environment lover, Gadkari said, “As I think about growth, the primary focus is on ensuring progress and protection of the environment go hand in hand. I am very alert to such issues and I assure the citizens that I will give my full support. “Affirming that not a single tree would be cut in the urban mini-forest rechristened as’ Bharat Van,’ Gadkari said,” A lot of people came to meet me and we decided to find a middle way after various discussions. Our goal was to find a solution that would not harm the trees in Bharat Van. I am pleased today that not one single tree will need to be cut for this road project. “As reported earlier by TOI, on 3 April last year, hundreds of environmentally conscious people including Bharat Nagar residents, green activists, children, doctors, senior citizens and members of various civil society groups gathered to meet with Gadkari, raising their voices against the” environmental foeticide “which was expected to kill Bharat Van.

TOI was the first to comment on the planned road that was part of the nearby reconstruction project for Telangkhedi Lake. In Gadkari’s own words, his “dream project” has been the facelift for the lake by building a musical fountain and an elevated viewing gallery. This paper had also highlighted how the development plans endanger more than 500 age-old trees and a rich biodiversity ecosystem.

Environment activists in the city, welcoming the minister’s stance, stressed that the next focus should be on conserving the Telangkhedi lake. “We are thankful that the Minister has taken a decision which takes into account citizens ‘ concerns. The 220-year-old lake is on the verge of dying, while Bharat Van is now healthy. It is full of garbage, silt, and hyacinth of water which causes its dissolved oxygen levels to drop. Even if the musical fountains and other activities begin, the lake will die in a few years ‘ time, “Nagpur’s honorary wildlife warden, Jaydeep Das said.

Based on reports from TOI, Das had written a letter to Bombay high court’s Nagpur bench outlining the adverse impacts of the proposed route. HC dealt with his letter on 3 December 2018 as a suo motu public interest litigation.

Meanwhile, Nagpur Municipal Corporation and Public Works Department (PWD), MahaMetro, which is the project’s executing agency, has confirmed that dropping the road was a joint decision of itself. “The Metro had no central role in this project’s policy-planning. The roadbuilding plan was submitted as per PWD guidelines, which manages the entire project’s planning and financing, “the agency said. It added that PWD had informed MahaMetro of changes at any point.

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