Mumbai: Stressing the need for protecting the environment, Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday said trees should be cut only when the development of a project gets stuck.
He also said a person should be made to plant 10 trees for every tree cut by him/her. His remarks came at a time when environmentalists have been opposing the proposed felling of over 2,600 trees in the Aarey suburban area to make way for a Metro carshed. Several Bollywood personalities and politicians have extended their support to citizens opposing axing of a large number of trees in a sprawling green belt here. “I feel we should protect the environment and should touch the trees only when development of a project is stuck,” Gadkari told reporters in Mumbai.
Speaking on the Aarey issue, he said, “The government has given priority to tree plantation. Maharashtra has been allocated Rs12,000 crore to Rs13,000 crore from a fund.” State Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar's plantation programme is the “biggest in the world”, he said.
“The green cover has increased in Maharashtra. The talk of tree felling is being made because there is no alternative otherwise,” the Union minister said. “The capital cost of a project is important and by opposing a project, don't make Mumbaikars pay for it,” he said.
The capital cost of the Bandra-Worli sealink escalated to Rs1,800 crore from the initial Rs420 crore because of protests, he pointed out.“Punish a person by making him/her plant 10 trees for every tree cut,” he added.