An unaccountable toll plaza at the cost of 7,000 trees

Banda village (Maharashtra): Approximately 7,000 trees are reported to have been cut down to make way for a toll plaza on NH-17. This has been done in an eco-sensitive area between December 2013 and January 2014, said a report.

Once built, this will also involve the flattening of hills on both side of the road. The issue is currently in appeal in the Bombay High Court.

However, a court petition against the project claims that the main reason behind the mass destruction of tree is mining, which is why the government wants to acquire the 1.3 lakh sq m land.

This can be proved by a 2010 note by Maharashtra's Directorate of Geology and Mines, which said,"It is expected that the project area may incorporate substantial quantity of iron ore, so no-objection certificate may not be given to RTO (to build the toll booth)."

If materialised, the project will also obstruct the Elephant Corridor here. Furthermore, the Banda village itself is considered to be among the eco-sensitive villages, declared by the ministry of environment and forests in a November 2013 directive.

As per the directive, mining activities, including quarrying, building and construction are not allowed.


While development has been cited in these cases, there have been contrasting figures and statements throughout. In December 2013, the tree authority of the Sawantwadi forest department allowed the cutting of 1,279 trees. Now the same authority says Maharashtra's border check-post authority had cut close to 5,429 trees.

The toll booth plaza project was part of a beautification project of the 22 toll booths here. The original proposals spoke of Insuli village only, but Banda cropped up in a handwritten notice by the Maharashtra State Road Development Cooperation (MSRDC), which sought the capital required for booths both in Insuli and Banda.

Moreover, no mention was made of the fact that most of the roads from Goa to Mumbai bypass Banda than Insuli. Also Insuli already had a checkpost.

While the villagers are still battling the case of alleged fraudulence by the government, there are many sides of the case that are yet to explored and explained.\

OneIndia News

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