An old Neem tree adjacent to the Mother’s International School on Aurobindo Marg is the first casualty in an 8-km road widening project that will affect as many as 30 trees. Traffic officials said a survey was conducted to identify trees that were hazardous to commuters. These will either be cut or transplanted to a different location.
“The branches of the Neem tree are still strewn all over the footpath adjacent to the school,” Shefali Mittal, secretary of the Sarvodaya Enclave RWA told The Indian Express. “Residents have been posting pictures of the tree on our colony WhatsApp groups. Several trees on the stretch have a distinct green marker put on them as an identifier,” she said.
Mittal added that the felling has been going on for a week now, and two trees have been chopped off on the Aurobindo Marg, so far.
The stretch, which runs from INA Market to Andheria Mod in Mehrauli, has several trees “hazardous to commuters,” a traffic official said, adding that “these trees are also causing huge traffic congestion in that stretch leading to south Delhi.”
The feasibility study of the trees has been submitted to both the Public Works Department and the Forest Department, said the official.
“As compensation for the Neem tree, we have asked the PWD to plant 10 saplings,” said a Forest Department official. “We approved the felling of that tree since it was ‘dangerous’ and in the way of traffic. We had received reports that accidents were taking place.”
Sohail Madan, a naturalist in his early 30s, remembers climbing the Neem tree when he an 11-year-old child. “I went to Mother’s International School, and everyday, me and my friends would spend at least half-an-hour on or around the tree,” he said.
Madan, who works at CEC Delhi and drove past the fallen tree on Thursday, said he was horrified to see a “grotesque” version of the tree — which he remembers so fondly from his childhood. “I remember climbing that tree with my friends and it’s sad to see what development has done to the city. It’s certainly not a good sight for the students to look at, nor a good lesson for them to learn.”