Small price? 11,500 trees face axe for Metro

July 31st, 2011 - 6:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 31 (IANS) Delhi Metro’s third phase will put an end to the travelling woes of lakhs of commuters, but the construction work for it will, by its own admission, kill around 11,500 trees on a 108-km stretch in the capital.

However, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) officials are of the opinion that the cutting of trees will not be a great loss to the environment as the corporation will do the compensatory afforestation.

“The construction for the third phase of Metro is on and everything is in place. Though we have estimated the loss of around 11,500 trees, we will plant more plants than we will destroy in the capital,” a DMRC official told IANS.

“With the completion of this phase, a large number of people who till now did not have the access will start commuting through the Metro. The felling of trees is a small price for the convenience of lakhs of people,” added the official.

Officials say the corporation will make sure that on cutting each tree, at least 10 trees are planted. On behalf of the DMRC, the forest department will plant the trees.

However, environmentalist Prabhakar Rao says though the construction of the third phase is in the public interest, the environmental loss cannot be denied.

“As far as the DMRC is concerned, they have been good in their afforestation drives. However, the loss cannot be denied. Though the forest department will plant tress, it will take those saplings at least 10 years to become complete trees,” said Rao of NGO Kalpavriksh.

When IANS contacted the forest department, a senior official said: “We are helpless as we cannot stop the construction of Metro since it is the lifeline of lakhs of Delhiites. But we will make sure that only minimum damage is done.”

According to him, the DMRC will have to pay a compensatory amount for cutting the trees.

“We’ll have to identify the areas where we can do plantation if trees are cut for the construction. For that, we’ll have to seek land from the revenue department,” said the official.

Janata Dal-United MP Jainarain Prasad Nishad has written a letter to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit regarding the issue.

“I am very concerned about this issue as the loss of 50 to 100-year-old 11,000 trees cannot be compensated. I have written to Dikshit to take necessary steps to stop the cutting of huge number of trees,” Prasad told IANS.

The third phase of Delhi Metro will see three existing routes extended — the Badarpur-Central Secretariat line will go up to Kashmere Gate, the HUDA City Centre-Jahangirpuri line to Badli and the Dwarka-Noida line to Najafgarh.

The construction work is expected to get over by early 2015 and cost over Rs.30,000 crore.

The Delhi Metro runs around 2,000 train trips and ferries 1.6 million passengers every day. After the third phase, the ridership will rise to three million.

(Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at gaurav.s@ians.in)

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