The National Highways Authority of India started cutting trees to expand National Highway 37 amid protests in Assam. Over 2,500 trees would face the axe along the Guwahati bypass as per the project. The NHAI will develop the NH-37 from Jalukbari to Khanapara from the present four-lane to six-lane. However, concerned citizens and activists have raised concerns over the massive tree-felling, citing the already deteriorating air quality of the city. Activists belonging to Friday For Future from Guwahati, organised a protest to raise their voice and protest against the "ruthless cutting down of trees".
63 Out Of 100 Cities With Worst Air Quality In India
Activists from the NGO wrote a letter to the Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma citing several reasons like groundwater problems, flash floods and Guwahati's position as the most polluted city in the North-Eastern region. The letter-copy received by The Logical Indian by mail read, "In the World Air Quality Report, 2021, prepared by a Swiss Organisation, IQAir, it was stated that based on air quality data collected from 6475 cities in 117 countries, 63 out of 100 cities with the worst air quality were in India. In a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment, Guwahati turned out to be the most polluted city in the entire north-eastern region, with a winter average of PM2.5 of 81 ug/m3. PM2.5 concentration of Guwahati's air is currently 32.8 times above the WHO annual air quality standards and falls into the "very unhealthy" category".
Acute Water Shortage In India
The group also highlighted points from IPCC's report, which mentioned that India was on the road to experiencing intolerable weather conditions in the future. Moreover, several wards in the city were already facing an acute water shortage. The letter mentioned, "Each mature tree, about ten years old, absorbs in its trunk and branches some 1,500 litres to 2,000 litres of water which help keep the water table up. The trees' roots suck water deep from under the ground to as low as 200 feet. Drinking water in some areas of the city has become a distant dream. We know that trees play an important role in absorbing the rainwater and help in replenishing the groundwater levels. The city also experiences flash floods during every Monsoon season, and trees help control them".
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