- Gargee Nandy, Shillong, Photos are by Lebanriford Dohling
In the past few days, over 100 English Pine trees have been felled along the Upper Shillong highway towards Sohra and Tura.
The PWD department has started clearing off the trees along the Pamlum stretch to commence the construction of the Shillong-Dawki Highway.
Considered as one of the most iconic stretches in upper Shillong, trees along the region are hewn down for its conversion to a four-lane road.
“These images are indeed disturbing I have asked NHIDCL to stop it immediately till we can find a better solution. We need to balance between development and environment.” – tweeted by Meghalaya CM, Conrad Sangma.
The gradual eradication of this green cover will bring grave repercussions including – the increased pollution as well as water scarcity. Locals especially the youths are left devastated, thereby questioning the authorities.
Now the question arises on the up-gradation of these roads. How will the authorities compensate for the merciless hewing of these trees? and measures are taken to maintain the ecological balance.
The youths slammed PWD and the State Government on social media platforms seeking immediate justification.
“Protection of the heritage trees is very much the objective of the state forest department as well as the NHIDCL who are implementing this. I’ve been informed by them there they have made major changes in the design layout to ensure that the heritage trees in the region are protected” – asserted Mr. R.S. Gil, the Meghalaya Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.
According to Mr. Gil, the Forest Conservation Act ensures that the environment is not in any way damaged to develop the country economically. If a certain patch of forest land is diverted the afforestation has to take place on a different patch so the country’s green cover does not get adversely affected as a result of any government project.
Mr. Gill further adds, “We believe that without the environment being safeguarded, material progress in the form of roads and other networks is meaningless. We aim to achieve both the objectives for the state to bring out development. On the other hand, ensuring that the environment (the forest in this case) which has traditionally been the hallmark of the state’s profile is preserved and protected and the government is committed entirely.”