VISAKHAPATNAM: Trees have become the casualty once again in the name of development, what with nearly 15-20 prime trees along the railway station road been hacked off late Saturday night as part of road expansion works, without any prior intimation to the stakeholders. While the officials concerned feign ignorance, environmentalists cried foul and demanded the preservation of these trees.
It would appear that the municipal officials were rather hasty in chopping off the trees and finishing the work before dawn, perhaps because they expected vehement opposition from environmentalists and the city-based NGOs. After axing the trees, the officials managed to shift the remnant logs using trucks at the earliest to avoid further problems.
The felled trees include peltophorum, neem, bo-trees and other species, which were around 70-80 years old and had been standing long and providing some much-needed shade, becoming a rather permanent fixture on the long road leading to the station.
But sadly, ever since the expansion works have been taken up along the road to provide enough space for the flyover, several trees on the route were chopped down. The municipal officials decided to cut down more trees but dropped the decision after environmental activists upped pressure against such a move. But in a gross violation of the promise, the officials have brought down the trees.
“During last month, the GVMC officials have even promised to not disturb the area. We also offered them alternate solutions to the problem without cutting down the trees, if it became inevitable. Now, they took a hasty decision to chop the trees without considering the promises made to us. They could have at least relocated them elsewhere,” said V Sridhar, founder member of the Green Guardian Society.
Reacting on the issue, environmental activist and former IAS officer EAS Sharma told Express that the GVMC officials have violated norms. Some trees which were cut were aged around 70-80 years, which can never be replaced, while some are around 10-50 years old.
“The officials have promised not to cut any more trees during last month itself, but resorted to such sort of action without any notices which is illegal and is purely in violation of the AP WALTA Act,” said Sharma. As per the Act, two saplings must be planted before axing one tree but nothing seems to have been done in this regard, he added.
When contacted by Express, GVMC commissioner MV Satyanarayana said that the trees might have been cut for facilitating works under the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS). “All such activities are not brought to my notice on a daily basis. However, we will look into the issue,” he added.