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Would you consider establishing a protocol for highway expansion projects that require logging: SC | India News

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court noted Wednesday that it would consider establishing a protocol to follow for projects like widening roads that require cutting down trees for minimal damage to the environment.
The higher court also said that it did not consider sustainable that if the road is less than 100 km, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is not necessary.
The observations came while listening to an allegation relating to the felling of more than 350 trees for the construction of a railway over bridges (ROB) and the widening of National Highway 112 from Barasat to Petrapole on the Indo-Bangladesh border in Bengal. Western.
A bank headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde said the protocol would ensure that the alternatives adopted for the project are less damaging to the environment.
A four-member committee constituted by the highest court informed him that before implementing a project of national importance it is desired to carry out an environmental impact assessment and this has not been done in the project under consideration.
The committee said state authorities are considering the project under consideration as an independent project that is affecting a distance of only 59.2 km.
“According to a circular issued by the MoEF, if a road project is less than 100 km long, then it is not necessary to obtain an EIA from any government agency. This argument, in the present case, is an attempt to circumvent the law of the land.
“We believe that drawing such a conclusion is wrong and should be reconsidered by the state of West Bengal. According to committee members, the EIA should be taken before starting work related to the project,” the panel said.
Attorney Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioner, referred to the MoEF notification and said that in the Char Dham project the roads were divided into smaller segments to avoid EIA.
The court said: “Prima facie, we do not consider sustainable that if the road is less than 100 km, then the EIA is not necessary. The whole environment is everyone’s land. It is not about this government or that government.”
The bank has now released the matter for its hearing on February 18.
The high court had previously formed a committee of environmental experts to suggest an alternative to cutting down more than 350 trees for the construction of railway over bridges (ROBs) and the widening of National Highway 112 from Barasat to Petrapole on the border. between Indo and Bangladesh in West Bengal. .
The five-member committee is headed by Dr. Soham Pandya of the Center of Science For Village, Wardha.
Bhushan, who appeared before the petitioner Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR), had previously said that alternatives were not explored and permission was granted to cut down the trees, which are heritage between 80 and 100 years.
He said that everyone knows about global warming and there is a study that says that if vegetation is not protected, in the next 10 to 20 years the human species will be in danger.
On August 31, 2018, the Calcutta High Court paved the way for the extension of the national highway and allowed the felling of more than 350 trees for the widening of Jessore Road, which connects the city with Petrapole on the border between Indo and Bangladesh, on the condition that five trees be planted for each tree cut.
The NH-112 or Jessore Road is an important link between India and Bangladesh and the state government had undertaken a project to expand it. Hundreds of old trees line both sides of the road, some of which it was decided to cut down for the purpose of widening the road.
A PIL was filed in the superior court challenging the state plan to cut down the trees. After discussions over several months, the high court allowed the felling of 356 trees in five locations from Barasat to the Petrapole border along Jessore Road.

Times of India

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