Shimla May, 12: Nearly 20 months after work began of the four-laning of the Parwanoo-Solan stretch of National Highway-22, the Forest Department issued orders to axe about 2,200 trees lying on the private land on Thursday. With barely 16 per cent of the work having been executed till now on this 39-km stretch, it was unlikely that the March 2018 deadline would be achieved. A 30-month period has been assigned for this work which began in September 2015.
This was not just indicative of the tardy pace of work but was also a reflection of the red tape in the government. The axing of these trees had been delayed as due compensation had not been granted to the land owners till now and its ownership status was hence ambiguous. Divisional Forest Officer, Solan, Ashok Chauhan, confirmed that felling orders to axe about 2,200 trees on the private land have been issued today to the HP Forest Corporation.
He said as per the clarification received from the authorities it was clear that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) owned the land now and the due compensation in lieu of axing the trees has already been deposited by the NHAI authorities.
The HP Forest Corporation will take at least three to four months to complete the axing of these trees while private structures were yet to be acquired and demolished. With several constrains like non-completion of land acquisition of private land owing to award disputes, the four-laning work has been going on in a piecemeal manner.
A case pertaining to exchange of defence land belonging to Dagshai cantonment, which was falling under the ambit of this four-laning, was yet to be finalized. A committee comprising revenue officials was yet to work out its market value.
“While these issues should have been sorted out before the inception of this project, they were causing undue delay in completion of this four-laning work”, confessed an official of the private company executing this work. The delay will not only result in cost escalation of the project but will also add to the inconvenience of the commuters as being a crucial road linking the state capital of Shimla, the movement of vehicles on this road was immense.