Shillong, June 23: The state government has stopped tree felling in Upper Shillong.
Curiously, the cutting of trees was part of the road widening project approved by the government and funded by Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
“These images are indeed disturbing I have asked to stop it immediately till we can find a better solution. We need to balance between development and environment”, the chief minister tweeted on the felled trees.
The road project is being executed by National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) at a cost of Rs 1,251-crore.
The plan is to convert the 71 km-long NH-40 into a four-lane highway from Umshyrpi bridge in the city to Baniun at 7th Mile in Upper Shillong, and from there for two lanes till Dawki.
On Wednesday morning, the social media was abuzz with posts and photos of the felled trees.
While majority have expressed shock over the matter, there were a few others who have commented that even if trees are felled, more can be planted. For widening of Shillong-Tura road and Guwahati-Shillong road many trees were cut, they said.
Some have even questioned the silence of the government for the rampant tree felling in Garo Hills and West Khasi Hills and also for allowing expansion of lime stone mining by Star Cement in Jaintia Hills at the cost of destruction to environment.
The chief minister further tweeted about the trees at Upper Shillong by stating that ‘after the team from PWD led by ACS (PWD) visited the site, the iconic stretch is mostly intact and not touched and will not be touched. We are further examining the matter’.
However, as per media reports, the PWD had in the past worked out an afforestation plan considering that road will pass through areas filled with trees.
The local MLA and Cabinet Minister Hamlet Dohling visited the area to assess the situation.