Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, please save trees!

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Dear Sir,

We, the citizens of the World, draw your express attention to the issue of felling trees for development of highways by widening.

Those of us who are working in the highway sector know very well that for every 50 km of such redevelopment of highways, about 5,000 trees are being 'killed', just so that roads can be straightened to increase speeds or widened to multi-lane roads. They also know that there are no environmental safeguards being used to rehabilitate the dislocated creatures. It is true that 3 trees are specified to be planted for every grown tree uprooted. But saplings can't in any way replace the life or utility of a grown tree!

How many of those saplings actually get planted and do survive is a point that you may choose to investigate. Also that this petition is being addressed to the highest possible office that is yours, is because most highway projects are directly being monitored by PMO.

While we thank you for having laid maximum stress on high speed road connectivity across the country that is so very essential for progress, we request you to please revisit the cost to the environment. Please see how thousands of full grown trees are being cut with a cover of environmental clearance that is being delivered to the Contractor at an accelerated pace. Not only does this affect the green cover, it causes eviction and ultimate death of thousands more of small creatures and birds who are dependent on these trees.

Therefore, our plea that you you may kindly intervene and make it mandatory to have the following actions taken:

1. Have the presence of animal welfare & environmental protection NGOs incorporated in the project hierarchy so that rehabilitation and preservation of the animals and trees respectively can be made a responsibility of the State.
2. Make it mandatory to consider the transplantation of grown trees as it is done in the Gulf Countries who treasure their trees. Thanks to your efforts, India is well to do enough now to afford that cost.

How things are going wrong:

1. The highway construction contracts being of the class known as 'Engineering, Procurement & Construction'--EPC Mode, entire responsibility of construction and its allied effects lies on the EPC Contractor who is governed by the Authority's Engineer--that is, AE (Consultant) and the Authority or the Project Awarding Authority.

2. These projects are governed by norms and standards laid down by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) who lays down the norms to be followed for environmental protection, but provides no tool in the hands of the AE or Authority to enforce the environmental protections because there is no environmental specialist included in the staffing of the AE.

3. In all tenders of Asian Development Bank and World Bank or projects funded by them, environmental expert is responsible for reviewing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) followed by Environmental Impact Mitigation Plan (EMP) and for enforcing them.

Examples of Environmental provisions in EPC Contracts are as under:

A) Clause 10.1.6 The safety audit pursuant to Clause 10.1.5 shall be carried out by the Safety Consultant in respect of all such design details that have a bearing on safety of Users as well as pedestrians and animals involved in or associated with accidents. The recommendations of the Safety Consultant shall be. [This refers to animals involved in accidents, but doesn't refer to what should be done to protect the animals from accidents. Cows and dogs are routinely being run over]

B) Clause 9.4 Felling of trees: The Authority shall assist the Contractor in obtaining the Applicable Permits for felling of trees to be identified by the Authority for this purpose if and only if such trees cause a Material Adverse Effect on the construction or maintenance of the Project Highway. [The AE, who is the Consultant, neither has the staffing capable of identifying whether a tree should be felled or not, neither does he have the responsibility to control the same.]

Therefore, throughout the 250+ pages of the contract there are no other references to either animals or trees, much less anything about their protection/ rehabilitation!

As a result of the tree felling without further thought, the animals are suffering in the following manner:

1) Street dogs: They lose their bearings when road diversions are set up and can't judge the exact tracks of vehicles that kill them. They also lose their sense of estimate as to how fast to run across the road that has suddenly become wider than it was. The sides of the road not having enough room for them, being hooted away when they go close to the shops, their only destiny is sure death under wheels.

2) Birds & Squirrels: They simply lose their homes and have to die unless they find another within the wildly competing animal kingdom that exists within civilization but we don't seem to know that it does.