CHENNAI: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed a housing society in Besant Nagar, which had chopped down trees at a public park, to plant 70 trees as compensation. The Government Official’s Cooperative Housing Society (GOCHS), which maintains the local park, claimed it had only “pruned” the trees. But in reality it had cut off several tree tops.
S Savithri, who lives nearby, filed a petition in the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal against the indiscriminate chopping of trees. She cited City Express’ news report (published on 15 October 2015) on the issue. Savithri claimed that the Society’s obtuse handling of the matter resulted in eight trees being cut down, three of which were Neem trees. The southern bench, consisting of Justice P Jyothimani, observed that pruning is only selective removal of parts of a plant to foster its growth. But in this case, these old native trees had their tops completely chopped off, sparing no branches and leaving no leaves. The court ordered that the Society was responsible, explaining that the branch collar — the base of a branch — was cut off, affecting tree tissue and exposing them to a risk of decay even if any of the trees grow again.
“Photographs stand testimony to arrive at a conclusion that it is not merely an excessive pruning but a brutal attack at voiceless trees,” reads the NGT order, adding that only a few localities in the city (T Nagar, Adyar and Besant Nagar) have tree cover and “if these sort of activities are encouraged, it amounts to allowing nature to be destroyed.”
The environment statutory authority has directed the GOCHS, Besant Nagar to plant 70 native species of trees in the same locality and maintain them for five years. They have been mandated to pay a fine of `10,000 as a contribution to the Environment Relief Fund. The civic body, supervised by the Corporation Commissioner will take a call on the saplings to be planted, with recommendations from the State Forest Department.