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Felling of trees for expansion project: Stay order issued

Felling of trees for expansion project: Stay order issued
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The division Bench of acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty gave a stay order on felling of trees for an expansion project of a road from Barasat to Petrapole for one week. The division Bench of Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court on Friday directed to stop the work till May 5, which is the next date of hearing in the said case. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) started the road expansion project in 2016 through a nodal agency in that 61 km stretch from Barasat to Petrapole in North 24 Parganas. As per the agreement, the Central government would provide fund and the state government would play the role of a nodal agency to implement the project.

Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) filed a case at Calcutta High Court alleging that without having any permission, road construction workers chopped off trees during the expansion.

APDR also alleged that the tree hackers felled at least 4,030 plants in that area. However, in an affidavit, the state PWD had earlier informed the court that they were given the permission to cut trees for six months during the construction. Contesting PWD's claim, APDR's lawyer said the time limit of six months was not properly maintained.

The court also directed the state government to submit "environment impact assessment report" in this matter.

However, the local residents at Nalhati in Birbhum district staged a demonstration pointing out that the road construction workers had felled several trees in that location.

"Many full-grown trees were cut by the construction workers. They did not even show us the permission letter and chopped off trees here," alleged Sanjit Roy, a local resident.

"It is a development work as we really do not want to stop this in mid-way. But the district administration should do something to stop these incidents of tree felling," Roy added.
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