Locals organized a 'Save Thane' protest against cutting down of more than 10,000 trees for the expansion of Dehradun airport. More than 100 people holding placards gathered outside the airport. The protesters who reached with the placards that read 'Save Thane', protested by hugging the trees.
The demonstration was sparked by the decision of the Uttarakhand government to seek approval from the National Wildlife Board to transfer 243 hectares of forest land to the Airport Authority of India (AAI). If granted, more than 10,000 trees could be cut down in the Thano Mountains to expand Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun.
The government claims to have important strategic moves behind the expansion of the airport since Uttarakhand shares a border with China.
In June of this year, the Uttarakhand State Wildlife Advisory Board approved the transfer of 73 hectares of forest land within the protected Gangotri National Park. This was for the construction of three strategically important roads that will ease the movement of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to the India-China border.
Currently, the length of the airport runway is 2140 meters. The new terminal is set to finish its work by 2021 October and that would also make the length of the runway 2765 meters. The proposed budget for the expansion is 353 crores.
The government of Uttarakhand sought approval from the National Wildlife Board in this regard, as the area included in the expansion plan is within a 10-kilometer radius of the ecologically sensitive area of Rajaji National Park.
The place is an important sanctuary for elephants and an ecologically sensitive area makes the concern larger, say environmentalists and local activists.