April 12, 2021 1:28:44 am
AS PER information obtained through an RTI filed by a city resident, the UT Administration has given approval to remove 703 trees in a period of six months. The RTI was filed by activist RK Garg.
As per information supplied by Department of Forests and Wildlife, Chandigarh 703 trees from all over the city were removed between August 20, 2020 to February 8, 2021 after approval.
The first approval to remove seven green and dead trees and heavily prune two trees, in the Panjab University area under sectors 14 and 25 was received on August 20, 2020. Another approval, to remove 448 green trees was received on September 25. This was done to increase parking and circulating area on Panchkula side of Railway station.
The department then received another approval to remove four green trees and heavily prune three in PU, as these were ‘posing danger to life and property.’ Within ten days, on November 11, an approval granted to remove 13 trees and transplant 11 trees having a girth of 60 cm in the area of construction of advanced Mother & Child Care Center (Phase 1) PGI, Sector 12. On the same day, approval was granted to remove 106 green trees and transplant 150 trees having girth of 60 cm or less to aid construction of a building at the Panchkula side of Railway Station.
After a gap of two months, on January 6, 2021, removal of 67 trees was approved. The application was for 90 trees in the Medicinal Plant Garden, UPIS, PU, but approval was not granted for 23 trees. On February 8, removal of 11 termite infected and dangerous green trees, posing danger to life, in the area of Ankur School, PU was approved.
“The authorities were directed to plant five times more trees on the identified land within one year of getting permission with the condition that the Forest department may inspect the compensatory plantation within six months of the felling,” said RK Garg.
“I personally feel trees standing in open cannot pose any danger and more of these trees could be transplanted in open area of PU. The entire removal of trees for Railway station parking and construction of building is also not justified as the removal of such large numbers of trees with harm the environment,” added Garg.
He said that the approval of felling of such large numbers within 6 months during the Covid period is totally uncalled for and needs to be stopped at all costs.
Paveela Bali, a city-based environmentalist said that a team of heritage experts should look into this tree cutting.
“It’s the most heinous crime and we are doomed if appropriate action is not taken after proper enquiry. We need an explanation as why these trees were cut. I have always maintained there is a timber mafia in the city. I am sure that our administration has very valid reasons on record for doing the same but I think a team of people formed by our heritage committee should look into this matter because the trees are our heritage given to the city by Le Corbusier,” she said.
“Other than these, there are at least 15-20 trees cut in every sector by saying they are dead and they have not been replaced. Even some green and healthy trees were cut. For some residents, it was obstructing sunlight or they didn’t want it in front of their house. It is everyone’s efforts that will go towards saving this city from this mafia. We have to wake up now,” added Bali.
Chief Conservator of Forest, Debendra Dalai, did not respond to The Indian Express.
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