Courts to the rescue of Chennai’s tree cover!

A Right to Information Act petition filed by a concerned citizen drew a response from the Chennai Corporation giving details of the mass felling of Chennai’s avenue trees. The reason the trees are being felled is that there is a request to do so from the office of the Joint Commissioner of Police of Greater Chennai because of the hazards they pose to traffic. According to the information received, the number of trees affected are seven hundred and ninety three (Yes, 793!!) situated in all the zones of the Chennai Corporation. In all fairness, the request from the Joint Commissioner specifically states that the action requested is ‘to remove/transplant trees to ensure free flow of traffic and to avoid accidents’. The letter also lists the number of trees and their exact location.

The letter goes on to elaborate, ‘At several places in Chennai city, there are trees that lie on the road. This straight away cuts up to 3 metres of the road in many places, thus reducing the space for the movement of vehicles. These trees have been found to be the cause of accidents, including fatal ones many a time’. It is true that many of these trees were a major traffic hazard on heavily trafficked roads and had to be removed for the safety of road users. The burning question is, did they simply have to be felled or could they be transplanted? According to experts, if sufficiently planned, the trees could be transplanted, depending on the health of the tree. Ideally, they would have to be transplanted to a location nearby. There would, of course, be a cost involved, so the Corporation did the easier thing- many of the trees were simply felled, raising a storm of protest.

Then up rose valiant D Vijaya Bhaskaran of Alwarpet, who filed a PIL against the indiscriminate felling of the trees along the arterial roads of the city. The First Bench of the Madras High Court, based on the PIL, has directed the Chennai Corporation to plant fifty saplings for every tree it fells, irrespective of the purpose. It further directed that the Corporation should plant another fifty saplings in case the transplanted saplings die or decay. The Bench also decreed that the Corporation should plant the fifty saplings of a ‘site specific’ species, and ensure their maintenance for at least five years. The Bench also directed the State Government to take a decision within eight weeks on constituting a Tree Authority to ensure the welfare of the trees in question. Now this is good news indeed! It would make a difference if every Chennai citizen kept a vigilant eye on the trees in the city to protect their well being and ensure that the green cover of the city is not reduced in any way.

Kudos to the Madras High Court for the proactive direction given to the Chennai Corporation!

8 Comments so far

  1. Navneeth (unregistered) on July 4th, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

    Did this appear is any newspaper, or are any sources available on the web? If indeed this is true, then…

    Woohoo! Kudos to Mr.Vijayabhaskaran and thank goodness the High Court is doing something worthwhile. :-)

  2. david (unregistered) on July 4th, 2007 @ 11:47 pm

    It appeared in The Hindu as well as online. :-)

  3. Navneeth (unregistered) on July 5th, 2007 @ 1:05 am

    Thanks. I must’ve missed it.

  4. Rajesh (unregistered) on July 5th, 2007 @ 2:25 am

    Good Job Vijaya Bhaskaran. Way to go. Now the next problem is to make sure the CC does follow the court’s ruling. Nowadays even the government does not follow supreme courts ruling. Phhrrrr..

  5. tsk tsk (unregistered) on July 5th, 2007 @ 12:19 pm

    Good stuff.

    Now the one more test: if the authorities were to widen mount road and had to demolish buildings on either side to acquire land…..

    i can already feel a headache!

  6. Thad E. Ginathom (unregistered) on July 5th, 2007 @ 2:29 pm

    The courts ruled that all speed brakers should be properly marked and painted.

    There was a scurry to do a few for a day or two, now it is forgotten.

    Unless the courts enforce their orders, what can be done? And, once a tree is dead …it’s too late :(

  7. nandini (unregistered) on July 6th, 2007 @ 8:32 pm

    would you have teh petitioner Mr VijayaBhasker’s number????

  8. SUNIL (unregistered) on July 24th, 2007 @ 2:32 pm

    What happened to the enforcement about not putting advertisements, hooks, nails etc. on avenue trees? There are still many out there.

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