Udipt Nidhi | The TrickyScribe: India is shining. India is developing. This development, however, has a price-tag attached to it. Towns are expanding, touching each-others’ boundaries. Inversely proportional to this is the green cover that is shrinking day in and day out.
Expanding cities and thereby shrinking greenbelt is the price we pay for this rapid urbanization. Patna, in tandem with the pace in vogue, is no exception. If one sets out on a long drive on Bailey Road, almost the spinal cord of the city’s traffic, they’re likely to find beelines of construction sites thronging the adjoining areas.
Construction is visible. But with this pace, Patna overlooked the natural beauty it already had! The riverine plains adjoining Digha area pose another threat that needs redressal, that too at the earliest.
Still the development of Sanjay Gandhi Biological Garden, eco-park, Buddha Smriti park hold some flora. Those apart, greenery is found abundantly in private or Government holdings.
Recent felling down of trees in the GPO
Felling down of trees in the name of beautification has become the order of the day. More than 30 trees faced the wrath of axe in Patna GPO recently. Of these, there were few that were more than a century old.
Volunteers from Tarumitra, a local NGO, planted some trees on the GPO campus back in August, 2002. Father Robert Athickal told The TrickyScribe “assisted by the then Chief Postmaster General, Bihar circle, Patna, Anil Kumar, Tarumitra volunteers planted the saplings.”
Climbers, grasses, bushes and trees were planted on the occasion. Aprajita, Rathi, Vetiveria, Neem, Nirgundi, Ashok and Cybapogon to name a few. “Tarumitra insured routine examinations and inspections and monitored the health of the trees planted,” said coordinator (head), Tarumitra, DN Prasad.
Tarumitra volunteers were apprised of the felling down of the trees on August 29. It was also learnt that no prior permission was taken from the state environment and forest department. This triggered sharp response on part of the local environment enthusiasts.
Series of Protests
Volunteers protested against the deforestation and the exercise was christened as ‘Alvida Vriksha Bandhu’. Candle marches were organized and voices rose.
“A plant takes years to grow and develop into a full-grown tree. On the contrary, it hardly takes a few minutes chopping them down. The threshold is already breached and trees can help restricting pollution thereby improving the environment,” said Father Robert Athickal from Tarumitra. He also alleged that as many as 6,000 trees were chopped down in the last five years.
Tightlipped GPO officials
The GPO locked itself in watertight compartments with the employees and officials, including the top brass, tightlipped on the issue. Chief postmaster general, Bihar circle, Patna, ME Haque was not available for his comments. Running from pillar to post meant nothing but gained experience of refusals, in different forms.
Lastly, deputy chief postmaster, GPO, Patna, Arun Jha responded. He, however, denied the allegation categorically and said “not more than three palm trees were pruned. The rest is exaggeration.”
Even he was reluctant, better to say in want of a better answer, on questions related to felling down of the trees on the GPO campus. On being persuaded further, Jha kept buying time. No concrete answer was given.
Ministerial staff pleading anonymity informed The TrickyScribe that not less than three dozen trees were chopped down.
National Green Tribunal guidelines
The stance of National Green Tribunal in cases of cutting down of tress is immensely stern. The NGT has imposed a blanket ban on the cutting down of trees from forests, parks or even in private or government land holdings across the country without obtaining proper clearances from the authorities concerned.