On Friday, a group of locals and functionary of an environment group had been applying a solution of clay and cowdung to protect cut parts of an Arjun tree so that new shoots and barks can come out. This was after the healthy tree of medical value was ordered to be felled with two other trees following the request of a Kankerbagh resident who said trees could damage his asbestos-roof, otherwise, a flimsy reason to order felling of a healthy tree.
An embarrassed forest department not only stopped the proposed felling of two other trees but also set up a two-member committee to know why the Patna DFO could issue such an order. The Patna DFO Ruchio Singhrder on 19 June had ordered, “As three trees can cause damage to asbestos-shade houses, they should be cut”.
The incident came to light after leading Patna neurologist Dr Sanjay Kumar, a local resident, flagged the matter.
The Patna High Court has been hearing the issue of felling and relocation of trees in and around Patna since June last year in response to a PIL filed by Gaurav Kumar Singh, who had brought the attention of the court on the unplanned cutting of trees for new buildings and widening of roads. The petitioner had said Patna, as per the World Health Organisation, is one of the fifth most polluted cities of India on the count of air pollution. Taru Mitra alone has visited 25 places in the last six months to help prevent cutting of trees.
A division bench of Justice Jyoti Saran and Partha Sarthyhearinh, in CWJC No 8939/2019, on June 25 last year, verbally observed that “cutting of trees is equivalent to murder” and also observed that there had been allegations of some people putting a chemical in roots of trees to get it felled. The court had later asked the state government to submit a detailed report on the matter with the action taken report. In the last two years, more than 2,000 trees have been cut in and around Patna.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had announced a mega drive to plant 2.5 crore plants on August 9 last year to boost his pet greenery project of “Jal, Jeevan, Hariyali” – worth Rs 25,000 crore. The chief minister had also talked about how his green mission had been generating huge employment in rural areas.
In Kankerbagh case, it was neurophysician Dr Sanjay Kumar, who flagged the issue and called Taru Mitra, an organisation working for the protection of the environment. Taru Mitra state coordinator Devopriya Dutta told The Indian Express, “A big Arjun tree of estimated 70 years age was completely pruned and only final felling was to be done. We fenced the free and applied standard cowdung and clay solution. The standard procedure says a healthy tree, which too of medicinal value, should not be cut, and if at all it has to be cut, it has to be relocated. We had met deputy CM and environment minister Sushil Kumar Modi early this year and got assurance of relocation plan”.
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