CHENNAI: The Corporation of Chennai will make it mandatory for people constructing houses in the city to plant trees within the compound in order to obtain building permission, according to the civic body officials.
Speaking to CE, officials said that a notification to this effect could be expected in the coming weeks. “This is similar to how we make it mandatory to construct rain water harvesting structures in buildings. Apartment promoters and individual house owners are all expected to comply. We will consider it case-by-case because not many might have the five-feet space in the compound, which is necessary to plant at least a neem tree,” said an official.
The civic body is concentrating on increasing the city’s green cover rapidly. Chennai has less than five per cent green cover, according to Forest Department statistics and even that is debatable. Instances of tree felling continue to be reported although administrative action on such illegal felling remains weak. Earlier, the civic body had chosen to plant palm and papaya saplings along river banks, canal banks, in parks and other spaces, in a bid to increase tree cover.
“We are fully committed to driving home our motto that for every one tree felled, the responsible party needs to plant ten more trees,” said an official.
A tree census commissioned under the previous year’s budget proposal by Mayor Saidai S Duraisamy is also nearing completion, officials said. “We have involved a large team, which is counting the number of trees standing 10 feet and above, in the city. After the enumeration, which is expected to be complete in two months’ time, we will devise an action plan for its preservation and increasing green cover in the city,” an official said. The plan is to increase the city’s green cover to at least 10 per cent.
Officials said they are planning to plant 17 different species of flora such as Madhuca longifolia (Ilupai), Albizia saman (thoongu moonji), Cassia roxburghii (sigappu kondrai), Cassia fistula (manjal kondrai), Saraca asoca (asokam), Thespesia populnea (poovarasu), Terminalia catappa (almond), Albizia lebbeck (vaagai), Melia azedarach (vembu), Millettia pinnatta (pungai) and Millingtonia (maramalli) among others in various parts of the city.
Officials added that sun ray spots in the city, wherein sunlight consistently hits for five to eight hours a day, were being identified to plant the trees. “We will plant the trees leaving a 100-metre gap in such localities to provide more shade,” an official said.