Ghaziabad, June 6 (IANS) Chief Minister Mayawati’s dream project of an eight-lane expressway from Greater Noida to Saharanpur along the Upper Ganges Canal in Uttar Pradesh has generated much controversy, with green activists saying it would result in the mass destruction of trees and, consequently, wildlife.
‘The mass destruction of trees will create an ecological hazard. Rare wild species like golden cats, monitor lizards, turtles, ovals and snakes have their habitat on the banks of this canal for more than one hundred years now,’ said environmentalist Rajendra Tyagi.
‘The construction of the expressway will make the survival of wild animals difficult in the area. The increase in pollution level due to the traffic would be harmful for the flora and fauna,’ he said.
‘In search of water when the creatures would cross the expressway to reach the canal, their fatality rate would increase tremendously due to fast traffic,’ he said.
Tyagi said the 148-km-long expressway will also pose a danger to the canal, the lifeline of districts in western Uttar Pradesh, as speeding vehicles may throw all types of garbage into the river.
The Upper Ganges Canal irrigates the Doab region between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.
Another activist, on condition of anonymity, said that during Mulayam Singh’s tenure as chief minister, the service road on the left side of the Upper Ganges Canal was converted into a motorable road.
‘What is the necessity for another eight-lane expressway?’ he asked.
It will start from Sanauta in Greater Noida and go on to Deoband in Saharanpur.
Executive engineer Upper Ganges Canal (UGC) Expressway, A.P. Singh, said the Rs.7,000 crore expressway would come up with public-private partnership on the right bank of the canal in addition to the existing Chaudhary Charan Singh Kanwar Marg which replaced the service road.
‘Although, there will be a mass slaughtering of trees, the irrigation department would plant four times more trees along the side roads,’ Singh said.
The project component includes base construction, hydro-electric power generation, navigation facilities, escalation of existing infrastructure.
IL&FS Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. has been appointed as project consultant to the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA).
The eight-lane access controlled expressway from Sanauta Bridge in Greater Noida would have to be completed within 36 months after accepting tenders, scheduled to be finalised in the third quarter of 2010.
The canal is primarily for irrigation in districts of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, although parts of it were also used initially for navigation. Today it is the source of agricultural prosperity and the irrigation departments of these states actively maintain the canal against a fee system charged from users.
The canal came up after the disastrous famine in 1837-38 in which nearly ten million rupees were spent on relief work, resulting in considerable loss of revenue to the British East India Company.
About three decades ago, a portion of the water from the Upper Ganges Canal was diverted from Muradnagar to meet the needs of the residents in the eastern part of Delhi. Recently, water was also drawn to be used as potable water in the trans-Hindon colonies in Ghaziabad and Noida.