While the UT civic body has been raining pavers and PCC tiles in the city, environmentalists and architects have strongly objected to it saying that these interventions are ruining the tree cover and original green character of Chandigarh and will eventually heat up the micro-climate of the city.
Former principal of Chandigarh College of Architecture Dr Rajnish Wattas said unnecessary paving is the worst thing that can be done to the environment.
“There is little infiltration of water into the soil. They are eating up the space which would otherwise be used for grass and plantation. Also, the large number of pavers increases the built-up area in the city, which heats up the micro-climate,” he said.
Rahul Mahajan, a horticulturist, who replants trees for the UT Administration, warned that residents will feel the effect of these pavers only after 10 to 12 years.
“Officials should understand that by putting these pavers and tiles, they are blocking the aeration to trees and plants. Dry leaves which fall from the trees are their nutrients as they get decomposed in the soil. Now that area around the trees is covered by pavers and tiles, which is one reason why so many trees are drying and dying much before the end of their life cycle,’’ he said.
He added, “Initially, every house had several trees in front of it, but they are no more there only because of these pavers.’’
An environmentalist, and a former professor of Punjab Agricultural University, who didn’t want to be named, said concretisation is very harmful for people with breathing problems.
“Choking of trees is certainly there but it is harmful for people as well. Initially, the pollen falling from the trees would settle down in the soil but now it circulates in the air and causes breathing problems, especially to people with asthma and lung disease,” the professor said.
Pavers, environmentalists warned, would also lead to waterlogging as rainwater can no longer by soaked by the earth.
“There was recharging of water during the rains, as water would percolate to the ground, but now it gets accumulated on the concrete surface instead.”
Chief Architect Kapil Setia had specified in his letters to the Municipal Corporation that concrete and pavers were adding to flooding in the city as in other cities.
In a communique, he had also specified that they must take into consideration the safety of existing tree cover along roadsides, percolation of rainwater for maintaining the water table and other environmental factors.
MC floats new tenders
Meanwhile, deaf to such environmental concerns, Chandigarh MC on Tuesday floated fresh tenders for laying pavers on a stretch outside Guru Gobind Singh College in Sector 26 for a sum of Rs 17.60 lakh. When Newsline visited the site, it found that there is a walking area on the footpath besides provision for a cycle track.
Local councillor Dalip Sharma said, “Some part of it is still kacha. I got these tiles installed but the college authorities told me that when it rains, water accumulates because part of it is still kacha, so we are installing pavers on the whole stretch.”
The civic body has spent Rs 20.13 crore on pavers in the last three years in violation of the Chandigarh master plan and the green action plan, and it approved pavers worth Rs 4.94 crore for Maloya, which already has PCC tiles.