Forest ministry allows cutting 46,294 trees to expand Butwal-Narayangadh sectionThe expansion work was on hold over the issue of cutting trees.
“The road expansion work will gain momentum now,” said Sujan Adhikari, chief of the Butwal-Narayangadh Road Upgradation Project.
The Department of Forest and Soil Conservation on Monday sent a letter to the Division Road Office in Nawalparasi, allowing the cutting down of 46,294 trees for the road expansion project.
The expansion work of the Butwal-Narayangadh section was on hold because the number of trees to be cut down along the road stretch was fivefold more than what was mentioned in the project’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report. The EIA, which was conducted in 2016, stated that 9,027 trees had to be cut down on both sides of the Butwal-Narayangadh road stretch for the expansion work. However, a fresh assessment conducted before the project’s launch showed 50,352 trees needed to be felled for the project.
Around seven months after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli laid the foundation stone, the road project last week started widening parts of the road where there was no need to cut down trees.
The government has allocated Rs16.99 billion, of which 85 percent will be covered by loan assistance from the Asian Development Bank, to expand the Butwal-Narayangadh stretch. The government in February 2019 signed a contract agreement with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation to implement the project. As per the plan, the existing two-lane road will be upgraded to six lanes within the next four years.
According to Adhikari, the road project has also sought permission to cut down 3,706 trees in the buffer zone of Chitwan National Park.
“We have asked for permission from the national park to cut down the trees. We are waiting for the park’s approval to begin our work,” he added.