‘Change Plan, Have a Parallel Road to Save nearly 35 Trees: Green Activists
Mangaluru: As per the road widening project, which is a Mangaluru Smart City project, undertaken by Mangaluru Smart City Ltd (MSCL) where nearly 15 trees have to be axed on a 1km stretch between Nandigudda (Koti Chennaya Circle) and Marnamikatte road in the City. But with the environmental/Green activists raising their concern, the forest department called a meeting of stakeholders recently.
Locals have been demanding the Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) and the forest department to save the trees from being axed. They have asked the MCC/MSCL to consider the development of a parallel road instead and make it a one-way if the road stretch had to be widened. Meanwhile, Mangaluru Range Forest Officer Prashanth Pai speaking to the media had said, “Road development works have begun from one end. However, the trees have not yet been cleared. It has been almost six months since we received a letter regarding the road development works. Since officials remained absent from the previous meeting, the issue could not be resolved.”
But even though three meetings have been held in this regard, there have been no results. Green activists had turned up on all three occasions, but officials from MSCL had skipped the meetings. The greens have been demanding that since there is a parallel road (adjacent to Nandigudda Crematorium), the road may be converted into a one-way and trees may be saved. They have also requested for translocation of trees and demanded the officials show them the development plan so that they can discuss how development can take place by protecting the trees. It is learnt that Smart City officials are expecting the forest department to resolve the issue. This is probably one of the few green stretches left in the city.
And during yet another meeting on this issue a couple of days ago, Green activists have opposed the cutting down of 34 trees for road widening between Nandigudda at Koti Chennaya Circle and Marnamikatte Road by Mangaluru Smart City Limited (MSCL). The forest department has said that it had allowed the axing of 15 trees but MSCL wants to chop down 34.
Mangaluru Range Forest Officer Prashanth Pai said that the MSCL has submitted two lists of trees to be axed.
At the meeting, green activists objected to the development plan. “We have requested them (the forest department) to reject the MSCL application, stating that there is an alternative road to Marnamikatte and trees need not be axed. The lungs of the city must be protected. It is time that the plan changed,“ activist Suma Nayak, who was present at the meeting, said.
Ms Suma Nayak further said, “Our objections have already been filed. We have clearly said no concretisation around the tree roots. The MSCL has started work without getting clearance from the forest department. We hope for a favourable decision from the forest department”. Officials reportedly said that they have approved the design and are not willing to change the plan.
The mission of a Smart City project is also to preserve and develop open spaces — parks, playgrounds, and recreational spaces to enhance the quality of life of citizens, reduce the urban heat effects in the areas and generally promote eco-balance. Speaking to Team Mangalorean Environmentalist Daniel Tauro said, “Since there is a parallel road (adjacent to Nandigudda Rudra Bhoomi/Crematorium) which can be used, one way can be brought into force.
If one way begins, there will be no need whatsoever to widen the proposed road. As per rulings of the Hon. High Court, Hon. Supreme Court of India and Hon. National Green Tribunal, whenever an alternative is available, it should be used if trees can be saved”.
Tauro further said, “We have already seen how hundreds of baby birds died in Kerala when the tree was felled. The road proposed in the City here to be widened has 34 beautiful trees with nesting birds. It will be cruel on our part to fell these trees for road widening when a parallel road is available for use and one way can be enforced. According to Article 51 A(g) of the Constitution of India, “it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures”.
“Father Muller road was widened and now the widened road is only serving as parking for vehicles, especially ambulances and lots of road space is encroached by roadside vendors. Therefore, what is the use of road widening which is meant for traffic, unfortunately, a major portion is encroached by illegal parking and street vendors. We have already conveyed this to them at the meeting” added Tauro.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean, MSCL General Manager (Technical) Er Arun Prabha said, “The issue has been a ‘critical’ one, but I am confident of successfully resolving it through consultations with all the stakeholders”. Mayor Premanand Shetty has directed MCC commissioner Akshy Sridhar to look into the issue. “We’ll see if we can make the road one-way and save the trees. A bicycle track will also be developed near the ground,” said the Mayor.
Raghavendra from Mangaluru Smart City Ltd, the corporator of the area Shailesh, green activists namely Suma Nayak, Daniel Tauro, Jeeth Roche, Dilip Vas, Manish Rao, Arjun Mascarenhas, Gopika, Allan Mathias, Benedict Fernandes, Ganesh, among others were present at the meeting. The meeting was chaired by ACF Subramanya Rao, RFO Prashanth Pai, and Deputy RFO Sanjay at the court of the Deputy Conservator of Forests.