Smart makeover needs green touch

by chitrkunwar

GURGAON: Golf Course Road has almost entirely lost its green cover due to the expansive infrastructure work that it is witnessing, though it bears the promise of transforming into one of Gurgaon’s most verdant patches when the 16-lane road being built by DLF and HUDA and the second phase of Rapid Metro are completed. But for that to happen, the groundwork must start now.

While environmentalists claim over 3,000 trees have fallen prey to the road project, HUDA says it has removed 1,055 plants and trees lining Golf Course Road, from Sikanderpur to Golf Course extension, to facilitate the renovation of the stretch.

In fact, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had last year given HUDA the nod to widen the road for the 8.3km-long signal-free high-speed corridor. But the urban development authority was supposed to plant 10 times the number of tress chopped, which means nearly 11,000 trees were to be planted by HUDA.

HUDA administrator Anita Yadav told TOI, “We have already planted around 10 times of number of trees that were cut. Most of the trees were planted around the sewage treatment plant. But, we will ensure that this stretch becomes green again. After the project is completed, we will plant many more trees on both the sides wherever we find space.”

However, Vivek Kamboj, founder of NGO Haryali Welfare Society, who had filed a case in the NGT in 2013 to challenge the claims of HUDA on carrying out compensatory plantation, said, “There were over a thousand trees that were chopped but the compensatory plantation has not been done properly. There were over 50 trees that were over 20-feet tall.”

Chetan Agrawal, an environment analyst, echoed similar voice. “The idea of green belt is misleading. They can be removed any time for the road expansion purpose. This is allowed legally as per the Gurgaon- Manesar Urban Complex Plan 2031.”

It may be mentioned here that HUDA’s horticulture division had informed the range forest department in July 2013 that 11,000 plants of various species have been planted by the authority in Sector 9A, Sector 31, STP plant area, sectors 90, 91 and 92 and Sector 53.

Another permission of tree removal was granted to HUDA in February 2012 to transplant 236 trees. The trees that got uprooted were transplanted in the green belt area of sectors depending on the availability of space. “We have transplanted the trees in the green belt areas wherever space was available,” said VK Nirala, executive engineer (horticulture), HUDA.

So, what’s the way ahead?

The trees that were cut have made way for the infrastructural uplift. Now, as per the government mandate, 10 times the number of chopped trees ought to be planted so that at least half of them grow to become as tall as the ones that were cut, by the time the road-widening project is completed.

“Instead of planting ornamental trees, HUDA should plant trees that provide shade. We discovered that some champa trees were planted as compensatory plantation after cutting the tall trees on Golf Course Road,” said Vivek Kamboj.

Real estate giant DLF said it would chip in to make Golf Course Road the city’s greenest stretch. A spokesperson said, “We will start planting trees this monsoon and our target is to plant as many as 5,000 trees this year.”

The spokesperson added, “The DLF Golf & Country Club is the only green lung in the entire district of Gurgaon as per the Forest Survey of India, 2008. Also, working towards a greener Gurgaon, DLF has created history by successfully transplanting over 250 mature trees in Phase V. This has been the largest tree transplantation exercise ever in India.”

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