people have already submitted their Inputs. Have you?
In a move that shocked citizens, environmentalists, in December 2018, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) invited bids to widen the 71.11 km Dharmapuri - Hosur (Thorapalli) of the recently upgraded NH 844, into four-lane at the cost of Rs 1,331 crores. The proposed road project was to provide four-lane second entry to Hosur from Dharmapuri which so far had only one route via Krishnagiri. 'Once the proposed road is widened into four-lane, motorists from Salem can directly reach Hosur via Dharmapuri, Royakottai and Jittandahalli without entering Krishnagiri, thereby cutting the travel distance by 25 km,' said official sources. 'The road also will reduce the travel distance to Hosur airport from Salem,' added sources (The New Indian Express, 12th December 2018).
This reduction of travel distance by 25 kms. is the justification for the large-scale environmental destruction that comes in the wake of this proposal. The initiation of this project in 2021 has brought with it the felling of huge leafy ancient avenue tree, which has implications in terms of loss of massive volumes of oxygen and carbon sinks, disappearance of flora, fauna and microorganisms which have co-existed with these diverse trees, closure of an elephant crossing and disturbance of the water ecology.
NH844 – Save Our Trees is running a campaign to halt the felling of trees for this highway till the public has access to information that will establish the mitigation of environmental adversity associated with this venture.
While the world grapples with the deleterious effects of climate change and global warming, comes the gut-wrenching sight of enormous leafy avenue trees being felled at an alarming pace to make way for a 71.11 km four-lane national highway between Dharmapuri and Hosur in Tamil Nadu.
We request an immediate halt to this so that the following information can be made publicly available:
1. What is the total number of all trees that will be chopped down? As per our initial estimation, there are approximately 8000 – 9000 trees of different sizes on this stretch. 'A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year.' What is being done to compensate for this loss?
2. Is there a plan in place for the transplantation of some of the trees which can be transplanted? Who are the environmental groups you are working with to help you with the transplantation process? Where will these trees be transplanted? Who will maintain these trees?
3. Regarding the trees that cannot be transplanted, what is the plan for planting compensatory trees?
4. What are the different types of trees that are being cut? In our preliminary survey, we came across the following three varieties: Banyan, Pipal, Ashoka, Neem, Indian Cherry, Gulmohar, Tabebuia, Tree Jasmine, Coconut, Areca Nut. This combination of trees represents a complex biodiverse microsystem that sustains flora, fauna and microorganisms essential for the health of the environment. It needs reiteration that 50-100-year-old Banyans are almost impossible to replace. We are also encountering the reality of vanishing native species. Therefore, which varieties of trees have been chosen for planting? Indigenous trees should be prioritised.
5. These trees have been nurtured into maturity due to the efforts of the surrounding villages and panchayats. We are currently seeing truck-loads of chopped trees being transported away. Where is this precious wood going? As whatever has been cut cannot be brought back to life, can it please be used for socially useful endeavours in these villages?
6. There is also an elephant crossing on the path of this upcoming highway. What is the plan to ensure that there will be no closure of this passage? How will the national highway structure be modified to enable free movement of these animals?
7. Water is our most precious rapidly depleting resource. What are the implications of this national highway in terms of disturbance to overland water bodies? Regarding the underground water systems, how will it affect the recharge of water aquifers? Can environmentalist advisers be brought in to assess this and make ameliorative suggestions in terms of modification of the route and structure of the national highway?
We need urgent access to this information.