The Rs. 2,000-crore four-laning of Jalandhar Barnala highway will move a step closer to execution with a team from the union environment ministry inspecting the forest area --- around 160 hectares --- in the state that will need to be cleared for the project.

The team will start its inspection from the Sangrur forest division and the Jalandhar division will be the last stop in its inspection of the forest area of Muktsar division.

The 146-km road, connecting Jyoti Chowk in Jalandhar to Barnala, will pass through Nakodar, Shahkot, Dharamkot and Badhni Kalan and is part of National Highway-71, which runs 307 km from Jalandhar to Rewari district in Haryana.

The four-lane project is one of the most ambitious projects aimed at boosting inter-state road connectivity between Punjab, Haryana and other parts of the northern region.

The inspection team of the environment ministry is headed by additional principal chief conservator (forest) Harsh Mittal.

The team will prepare a report, which will have to be cleared by the ministry. The project involves felling of 22,700 trees and one of largest part of forest area is on the last leg of the proposed road, in the Jalandhar division.

Speaking to Hindustan Times over phone, additional principal chief conservator (forest) Harsh Mittal confirmed the visit and claimed he would verify the reports submitted to the environment ministry.

"Friday's visit will verify the suitability of the proposed project. We willwill submit a report to high-level committee," he added.

Phillaur divisional forest officer Surjeet Singh Gill said the project was ready for sanction and the visit of the team was the last step before clearance could be granted.

The forest department would plant more than 10 times the number of uprooted trees and the executing agency in the state is the Public Works Department (building and roads), which is paying for the land, besides the cost of the felled trees.

The four-laning project report includes four big bypass roads, nine small bypasses, six flyovers, 16 pedestrian underpasses, seven vehicular underpasses at railway crossings and three railways overbridges.

The forest divisions of Phillaur, Muktsar and Sangrur have completed their surveys.In the Phillaur division, from Jyoti Chowk to Shahkot sub-division in Jalandhar district, 3000-odd trees will be cut in 52.80-hectares.

The Muktsar forest division covers the area from Dharamkot to Badhni Kalan (both in Moga ) which includes 60 hectares of forest area. More than13,000 trees will be chopped for widening the road . This forest area is larger than other two divisions.

The Sangrur forest division includes 38.7 hectares of forest from Badhni Kalan to Barnala town and 5,000 trees will be uprooted.

Source: 8 January, 2015, Hindustan Times