WRITTEN BY AGGAM WALIA
The crosses marked in white on scores of mango and kikar trees on Dakshin Marg stretch that cuts through the Industrial Area I and II, have sent the alarm bells ringing among tree lovers of the city.
Rahul Mahajan, an environmentalist, says at least 700 trees would be felled to make a flyover on the stretch, starting from Zirakpur till Tribune Chowk. Though the administration is tight-lipped on the issue and even numerous visits and phone calls could not elicit any response, sources said all these trees, mostly mango trees, that were planted at entry points of the city by its architects, are all set to be cut.
The mango trees on the divider along this stretch and some on Purav Marg from Tribune Chowk to Sector 28, are marked with white chalk, waiting to be felled to make way for the flyover.
Many see this felling as an onslaught on city’s heritage. “Besides being a sight for sore eyes, the trees give us fruits and absorb the smoke released by traffic and factories in and around the area,” says Mahajan.
Dr Satish Narula, a retired horticulturist from Punjab Agriculture University running a plant nursery in the city, said there was no need to cut these marked trees. “Cutting trees in Chandigarh is a crime. I understand that for development, we may need to cut down a few trees. However, I feel we should plan our projects with the mindset of saving them instead. I am sure they can tweak the flyover a little. All they need is the right intention.’’
THE DYING GROVES
Environmentalists also rue the poor state of the mango groves in Sector 28, 29 and Industrial Area. “The groves are in a very bad state. There is a cycle track, a pedestrian track, and who knows how many more tracks will be built in the future. The construction of these tracks is leading to destruction of these orchards. Also, during road widening process, we end up destroying the roots of these trees”.
Some parts of the orchards are under the Municipal Corporation, while the rest belong to Chandigarh Administration. The parts under the MC are given on lease to local contractors. “The problem is that the contractors only want the benefits. They use different methods to increase their profits. They use recycled water for trees, which is not good as it is dried them up further,” said Mahajan.
Mahajan alleged that the MC has no record of the number of trees, dead or thriving, in the orchard. Rajnish Wattas, former principal of Chandigarh College of Architecture and the president of Chandigarh Tree Lovers, says, “There should have been a gradual system of replacement of dying trees, but it does not happen. It is MC’s responsibility.”
When contacted, MC’s executive engineer, Kishan Pal, said, said the trees in the mango groves under the MC don’t require to be felled for the flyover.
“I don’t know about the others,’’ Pal added.