Destroying Mother Nature! Green Land makes Way for Concrete Jungle
This is an article written as part of a project on increasing commercialization leading to indiscriminate cutting of trees. It emphasises on the benefits of trees, their uses and importance in maintaining a healthy life balance. Trees are an important part of the society and community. Along with furnishing us with the basic essentials for life like food, oxygen, shelter, medicine, tools, they also satisfy the needs created by our modern ways of living. The value of trees has been increasing ever since more and more benefits are being discovered. If not Earth then where do we think life will exist? If we do not take any action today, then when will the appropriate time come? If not us then who else will work towards their preservation? It’s time to act. Hurry because time is running fast! Save trees, Save the Planet!
Mangaluru: Yet another ancestral Catholic property with lots of greenery including trees like coconut, Jack fruit, Custard Apple, Mango and other fruit bearing trees, in the heart of the City has been sold to three partners who plan to construct a mega building, could be an apartment complex. Sad to note that the once a greenery landscape is fast changing in this lush green place surrounded by the Arabian sea, and the Nethravati and Gurupur rivers, and has been making way for buildings/apartments/commercial complexes, thereby turning this beautiful eco-friendly town into a concrete jungle. The old Mangalore-tiled houses are fast vanishing and making way for high rises, malls and luxury apartments. I feel like a stranger in a city I grew up.
Mangaluru which was once a land of many Catholic families owning vast properties have been sold to builders either for less or twice the original price of the land. With children of these Catholic parents going abroad, especially to the USA, Canada, UK and other European countries – who don’t want to return back to their hometown- unfortunately the aged parents have no other choice than to sell their ancestral property. Many such Catholic properties with lush green surroundings have been sold to builders, who make a fast buck in converting these historic landscapes into concrete infrastructure.
The decline in this thriving industry is of course due to many factors and reflects the shift in habits and culture that has been rippling throughout the great subcontinent for decades now. Like in the west, in fact, construction materials have changed and along with housing preferences have moved away from traditional ways, favouring apartment and condominium living. Some of the major developers in the area proudly boast having “changed Mangaluru’s skyline” and change it indeed they have. Anywhere you walk in Kudla or Kodiyal in Konkani, you can see multiple skyscrapers under construction. And among these endless noisy job-sites however, nestled amidst luscious and sometimes overgrown tropical vegetation some “old ancestral Catholic treasures” can still be found- but not many. Some families have managed to hold onto their land, even those surrounded by enormous developments, some others proudly save their homes and even dare restore them to their old grandeur.
But sadly, an ancestral Catholic-owned property which has been existing on the posh Falnir area has been sold. But the sad part is that, by selling this property, the eco-friendly city has lost many clean air producing trees, thereby hurting the environment very badly. This report is just to apprise you of damage done to the environment and with a view to creating awareness about the environment and to highlight the importance of preserving trees. It brings a certain kind of sadness to see rare and valuable fruit yielding trees like the Jackfruit, Mango, Coconut, Pepper, Breadfruit, Custard Apple- some of which are real delicacies being ruthlessly hacked like this! It would take decades and decades to grow them back again. Whereas they are just felled to the ground within a minute using automated cutters.
As reported by one of our ardent readers, Marian D’Souza, who lives next to this sold property has stated that the disaster happened on Saturday, 11 February 2017 in the sprawling compound housing the heritage structure ‘Landsdowne’ on Mother Teresa Road (erstwhile Falnir Main Rd.) next to St Mary’s (Marjil) School in the heart of the city, which is a clear case of violation of environmental norms and Green Tribunal rules besides the Tree Protection Act. More than a dozen fruit bearing trees and over 20 coconut trees have been razed to the ground.
In his email to Mangalorean.com, Marian had said, “I would request your good self or your reporter to visit the site if time permits for a first hand assessment of the cruel and brutal massacre of such a large number of fruit bearing trees and take photos of this colossal disaster meted out to Mother Nature and killing the flora and fauna straight away dealing a body blow to the fragile environment and pollution levels of the city. I would like Team Mangalorean to visit this spot, note the details and publish the text and photos prominently in your news portal for creating awareness amongst your readers. Please highlight the damage done to the ecology and exhort the public to be conscious of the enemies of nature.”As per the request of Marian, Team Mangalorean obliged.
Also Marian brought to our notice that there is an abandoned water body situated very close to this sold property, and as per law no buildings should be constructed within 200 mts of the water body (underground tank)-then how can authorities give permission for an apartment complex to come up in this vicinity. Seems like anything can happen in Mangaluru if you have money power and political influence. Just look at the mega infrastructure coming up right in front of Tagore Park, blocking the view of visitors who used to earlier watch sunset/sunrise from this park- supposed to be a heritage spot, but some authorities issued permission for this concrete structure to come up. Bah humbug!
Sources reveal that Tree Felling in Karnataka is governed by the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act, 1976. Section 8 (1) of the act states: With effect on and from the appointed day, notwithstanding any custom, usage, contract or law for the time being in force, no person shall fell any tree or cause any tree to be felled in any land, whether in his ownership or occupancy or otherwise, except with the previous permission of the Tree Officer Thus, whether the tree is on private land or government land, the permission of the Tree Officer is essential before a tree is cut. On what grounds can a tree be cut?
The Act says that permission to cut a tree cannot be refused if the tree – (i) is dead, diseased or wind-fallen; or (ii) has silviculturally matured; or (iii) constitutes a danger to life or property; or (iv) constitutes obstruction to traffic; or (v) is substantially damaged or destroyed by fire, lightning, rain or other natural causes. Steps to be taken when you see a tree being cut 1) Approach the people cutting the tree and see if they have permission to cut the tree. The permission should be from the Tree Officer, MCC with the seal of the MCC and the signature of the Tree Officer. If permission has not been granted 1) Ask the people cutting the tree to stop immediately. Tell them that it is illegal to cut a tree without permission and that it constitutes a criminal offence. If the tree cutting does not stop do the following- a) Immediately call the Tree Officers office/Forest dept. officials.
The Tree Preservation act says – Where permission to fell a tree is granted, the Tree Officer may grant it subject to the condition that the applicant shall plant another tree or trees of the same or any other suitable species on the same site or another suitable place within thirty days from the date the tree is felled or within such extended time as the Tree Officer may allow. If you know of a place where permission was legally and rightly granted for felling a tree, please ensure the above is taken care of. What is to be done to preserve, maintain and regenerate trees?
How far this law holds here in this private property where a bunch of fruit bearing trees have been already cut, nobody is quite sure about it. But in the meantime, Marian had already contacted the local Forest Department officials, and a couple of the officials had already visited the spot, taken photographs and more details to follow up on this matter. But what would be the outcome when the forest dept. officials take their decision is still in suspense. But as of now, what is really sad that many of these trees have already being cut- instead of chopping down all these fruit bearing trees, at least a few trees could have been saved- and whatever infrastructure is planned at this spot could have been built around these trees-thereby giving a naturalistic and environmental look.
In conclusion, we should all know that, Trees provide us shade and shelter, help in moderating the climate, preserving soil, supporting wildlife, reducing pollution and in many other ways. Trees create an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere around us. They make our landscape look beautiful..indeed priceless. However, the population explosion and expansion of commercial areas has resulted in the massive pruning of trees. People are continuously cutting trees for developmental activities like making houses, commercial buildings, parking lots and we are moving a step further in destroying the planet by losing the most valuable resource of the environment.
Have we ever thought what would happen if there were no trees on Earth? Global warming will increase leading to the melting of glaciers and a rise in sea level. This will disturb the entire chain of life on earth. The water cycle will get disturbed, many species of animals will lose their habitats and we will, in turn, loose the huge biodiversity that we are now proud of. What would we provide to the generations yet unborn with, if there were no parks, playgrounds and backyards? How will they feel connected to Nature and Mother Earth? Trees are the lungs through which we breathe. Where would oxygen come for mankind to breathe?
Are we sure that we can settle with more buildings, more commercial houses, more paved streets and less of trees? It is time to re-think the action of cutting down trees for the development of a nation. It is difficult or rather impossible to sustain life on Earth without trees and it is not possible to find alternatives to trees. It is also our responsibility to pass on to the future generations, the benefits we were provided with, by nature. It is time to save the trees. Our small efforts can save the environment. All it needs is a start!
Team Mangalorean thanks Marian D’souza for his fight to save trees and his efforts in bringing awareness about the clean and green environment for the betterment of the society. We need more people like Marian D’souza to “Save Trees and Save the Planet!”