Guwahati: Despite protests and outrage, the National Highway Authorities of India (NHAI) has started felling trees for the expansion of of National Highway 37 in Guwahati.

Over 2500 tress including some age-old will face the axe along the Guwahati bypass.

The NHAI is going to expand the NH-37 from Jalukbari to Khanapara from present four-lane to six-lane.  

Citizens and environmentalists have raised the matter on social media platforms alleging that the trees need to be saved.

On Saturday, activists belonging to Friday For Future India, Guwahati organised a protest to raise their voice against the “ruthless cutting down of trees”.

The citizens, who joined the protest, hugged the trees and formed a human chain to express their resentment against the felling of trees.

“Citizens of Guwahati started observing that trees in Jalukbari were being chopped down and soon the news that 2000 trees will be chopped spread around. Among these are some age old trees that cannot be compensated with 10 new saplings each. The important ecosystem services that these trees have been providing to our city are priceless. It is a matter of concern for the entire city and we urge the citizens to come forward and raise their concerns,” said Friday For Future India, Guwahati in a statement.

Over 300 trees, most of them estimated to be around 70 to 80 years old, have been cut for development projects, in Guwahati and its adjacent areas in the last two years.

According to Kamrup east divisional forest officer Rohini Saikia, 12 trees, some of those oldest, have been cut down for construction of the flyover at Zoo Road Tiniali and at least 54 trees were cut for the construction of the 1.2 km two-lane flyover on GS Road in the  Dispur area,

In a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE),  Guwahati turned out to be the most polluted city in the entire Northeast region with a winter average PM2.5 of 81 ug/m3. PM2.5 concentration of Guwahati’s air is currently 32.8 times above the WHO annual air quality standards and falls into the “very unhealthy” category.

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