‘Agency Constructing Zojila Tunnel Chops Over 300 Trees’

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Sonmarg: Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd which is responsible for the construction of 14.5 kilometer Zojila Tunnel has chopped off 338 trees without seeking permission from the Forest Department.

The trees are lying along the road and Forest Department officials have submitted a report to Divisional Forest Officer Ganderbal seeking action against the agency under law.

“There is a road passing through the forest area of Nilgrath. We had marked some 300 trees that were supposed to be cut by the forest department. Ironically, without seeking our permission, Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited has cut down 338 trees,” Forest Officer Sonmarg Abdul Gani said.

Any Agency involved in the construction of a road or tunnel is supposed to deposit a specific amount before the forest department before cutting the trees if they are hampering their work. But Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd violated all the rules and did everything on its own.

“338 trees is a big number. We have filed a report before Divisional Forest Officer Ganderbal, Mir Owais and demanded action against the Agency under law,” the forest officer said.

Pertinently, Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd secured the contract to construct the multi crore Zojila Tunnel after it emerged as the lowest bidder for the project.

Zojila tunnel aims to provide all-year connectivity between Kashmir and Ladakh region. The estimated cost of the project is Rs 4,509 crore.

When contacted, DFO Ganderbal, Mir Owais said that he has constituted a committee to ascertain facts. “If some violation has taken place, we will charge a bill from the Agency. I don’t think they have cut trees. What I have learnt is that the Agency has cut some saplings,” Mir Owais said. (KNT)

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