UP govt plans to cut 33,000 trees for Kanwar route project, informs NGT

The tribunal has requested a detailed breakdown of the trees to be cut from various departments

Representative image of Kanwariyas on their march (photo: National Herald archives)
Representative image of Kanwariyas on their march (photo: National Herald archives)

NH Digital

The Uttar Pradesh government has informed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that over 33,000 fully grown trees will need to be felled for the ambitious 111 km Kanwar route project, which spans the districts of Ghaziabad, Meerut, and Muzaffarnagar.

The NGT, chaired by Prakash Srivastava with members Arun Kumar Tyagi and expert A Senthil Vel, has sought additional details from the state government, with the next hearing scheduled for 8 July.

The proposed kanwar corridor is a two-lane road project that will run parallel to the Upper Ganga Canal. It will connect Muradnagar to Purkazi near the Uttar Pradesh-Uttarakhand border. Among the reasons being cited by the government to justify the need for such a project is that it will do away with the

Previously, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had granted permission for the cutting of 1.1 lakh trees and plants in these three districts. Taking suo motu cognisance of this order, the tribunal has requested a detailed breakdown of the trees to be cut from various departments, including the principal conservator of forests, the public works department, and the district magistrates of Ghaziabad, Meerut, and Muzaffarnagar.

The state government furnished the requested details but was asked to provide a more comprehensive breakdown. The government has justified the need for the Kanwar route, highlighting its significance for approximately one crore devotees. These devotees travel to various cities and villages in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh after collecting water from the Ganga in Haridwar.

“This route is categorised as 'very crowded' for both common people and devotees. A total of 54 villages across the three districts lie on this route, leading to significant traffic disruptions during the month of Shravan,” the government informed the tribunal.

Despite the necessity outlined by the government, the green court has previously raised substantial issues regarding the compliance of environmental norms.

To mitigate the environmental impact, the state government has identified 222 hectares for afforestation in Lalitpur district and deposited Rs 1.5 crore with the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).

“We will update the court about the rules we have followed,” a Public Works Department (PWD) official stated.

The Kanwar route, proposed in 2018, serves as an alternative to the traditional road through western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand districts along the Upper Ganga canal.

In 2020, the state's expenditure and finance committee approved the project, which includes the construction of 10 major bridges, 27 minor bridges, and one railway overbridge. Notably, most of the bridges on the Ganga canal date back to around 1850.

As the 8 July hearing approaches, the project’s impact on the environment remains a critical point of discussion, balancing the needs of development with ecological preservation.

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