GOALPAR, Nov 30 - The reserve forests as well as the proposed ones will lose a sizeable forest cover in the road widening project on the NH-37 run by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) under the National Highway Development Project (NHDP), which recently started construction from Pancharatna onwards in Goalpara district.
Talking to this correspondent, DFO Khanin Das said that the construction of the four-lane road project has already started from Pancharatna and a joint survey is being conducted by the forest and revenue officials from their respective ranges and the circles under land assessment. As per the daily progress report (DPR), the joint requisition of land is expected to be completed shortly.
He said the exact number of trees to be felled during the ongoing project is yet to be ascertained, as it will depend on the alignment of the road, but there will be a sizeable amount of loss to biodiversity during the construction works.
Also, the DFO informed that the road widening works will be carried out in phases on NH-37, which will pass through the proposed reserve forests (PRF) and the reserve forests (RF), like Bogulamari PRF, Rakhasini PRF and Segunbari RF under the Goalpara range, Fofonga RF, Bormora PRF, Borjhar PRF, Boromatia PRF and Guriajan RF under the Central range, besides Deosila RF and Baghmara PRF, Madang. These forests are set to lose a sizeable portion of green cover.
On the other hand, Paikan RF, Baghmar PRF, Kasumari part I and part II PRF and Salpara PRF will also be affected during the road widening works from Paikan (Krishnai) in Goalpara district to Tura in Meghalaya.
Range officer Santana Medhi said the land assessment and requisition have been completed in the stretch of 12.3 km under Package 7 from Pancharatna to Nicinta under the Pancharatna range and a total of 486 trees in the forest land will face the axe within this stretch.
She also informed that 11 elephant corridors � three under Goalpara, four under the Central range and four under the Ranjuli range on the NH 37 have been notified for their preservation.
Meanwhile, public activists Noni Das and Sailen Das are of the opinion that a large number of fully grown and heritage trees will be felled in the name of development. They urged all the officials concerned to implement the project as per the government guidelines so as to cause less harm to the environment and preserve the rich biodiversity of the region. They even demanded that some of the trees should be translocated to appropriate places on the highway.