Dehradun (Uttarakhand) [India], October 18 (ANI): Several hundred people gathered outside the Jolly Grant Airport here on Sunday to protest the proposed felling of over 10,000 trees for the expansion of Dehradun Airport into International Airport.
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The state government has sought approval to transfer 243 acres of forest land to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) for the expansion of the airport stating that international flights are set to increase post the pandemic. Uttarakhand also shares a border with China and with the airport close to the Line of Actual Control, it is of strategic importance.
Environmental activists have questioned this move saying that it will cause the destruction of over 10,000 trees in the Thano range of the state. "This is just a smokescreen since Uttarakhand already has airstrips at Gauchar and Pithoragarh close to the LAC. These can easily be upgraded and the proposed expansion will only cater to commercial aircraft."
Jollygrant Airport Director D K Gautam told ANI, "For the airport expansion, the state government will denotify forest reserve according to the norms of the Environment Ministry. As far as trees are concerned, there would be plantation at some other place."
Protestors participating in the 'Save Thano Forest' said it is evolving into a people's movement against the government's destructive policies towards the environment.
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The area of the proposed airport expansion also lies within a 10 km radius of the Rajaji National Park Eco-Sensitive Zone and environmentalists believe that this move will affect the wildlife and biodiversity in the area.
"Thano forest is a precious resource and every single tree counts in these times of environmental degradation. The Save Thano Forest is evolving into a people's movement against government's destructive policies against the environment," one of the protesters said. (ANI)