Over 3,000 trees could be felled for road project in Meghalaya

Shillong: Over 3,000 trees, including those falling within the Narpuh Reserve Forest in eastern Meghalaya, might face the axe for the proposed widening of the National Highway 44 which connects the state to Assam.

The Rs 368.88 crore project, covering 100 km through West and East Jaintia Hills districts, would also affect 121 households through which the NH-44 passes in Meghalaya.

The road project passes through a 10 km stretch through the Narpuh Reserve Forest covering an area of about 2 Ha.

The resettlement and rehabilitation of the displaced people alone would cost the government over Rs 9 crore, officials in the National Highway Authority of India said.

Of the 3,450 trees which require felling, 91 of them are in reserve forest areas, 2,780 in the existing way and the remaining are in the land proposed to be acquired, they said.

The major settlements en route are Pasyih, Ialong of West Jantia Hills, Wapung, Khliehriat, Ladrymbai, Mynkre, Sonapur, Umkiang and Ratachera in East Jaintia Hills district.

The proposed project would also affect houses and government offices. A total 118 buildings would be affected directly, out of which 90 private structures shall be demolished, sources said.

At present the National Highway Authority of India is waiting for the environmental clearance for the project even as they said that no diversion is required for the 10 km stretch which passes through the Reserve Forest.

Officials said necessary stage?I forestry clearance would be obtained and submitted along with final environmental impact assessment (EIA) report.

Since the road widening project passes through forest areas, necessary infrastructure to minimise damage on the forest have been made mandatory.

Necessary green belt shall be provided on both sides of the highway with proper central verge and cost provision should be made for regular maintenance, a NHAI report said.

According to the report, the possibility of using cold mix technology, wherever possible, particularly where wildlife is present, has been suggested for builders.

Also proposed are provisions for rain water harvesting infrastructure at every half a kilometre including oil and grease trap.

Specific vertical drain type rainwater harvesting structures are also being proposed to minimise surface runoff loss of rainwater, the report said.