A retired Army official on Saturday apparently walked into trouble when he decided to fell a tree that was posing a threat to his bungalow in the upmarket Jubilee Hills locality here.
The felling of the tree, adjacent to his compound wall, however, raised a few eyebrows, especially those of city environmental activists.
Veteran of the Indo-Pak war of 1971 that lead to the liberation of Bangladesh, Col NN Capoor (retd), has been living in his house on Road No 18, Jubilee Hills for the past 17 years, with his neighbours being AP Legislative Assembly speaker N Manohar, veteran actor A Nageshwara Rao and the US Consulate General to Hyderabad.
“I had taken the required permission before felling the tree. It was posing a threat to my house and there were a lot of cracks formed on the compound wall and it was necessary to cut the tree to avoid any further damage,” 70-year-old NN Capoor told Express.
Clarifying that he himself was an environmentalist, he said, “I am against environmental degradation. I have not cut all the trees but only the one that was posing a serious threat. In fact, I do all the gardening at my home.”
Though forest authorities said that he had not acquired the required permission to fell the tree, the colonel who served the Indian army for 27 long years, said, “I had spoken to the authorities and I am ready to show the documents. The tree if fallen on its own would have lead to collapse of my house.” He added, “We have not uprooted the tree. It should grow back soon. We just avoided any damage to us due to the threat.”
However, Divisional Forest Officer (Territorial) Nagabhushanam, said, “No one is supposed to cut trees without prior permission. In this case, the tree was very close to the compound wall and he had cut it. We have fined him Rs 4,500 going by the WALTA Act.”
According to the Andhra Pradesh Water, Land and Trees Act (WALTA), a tree can only be cut if it endangers life or property and for that too the permission has to be taken from the district forest officer.
Reacting to the tree cutting, environmental activist Jayaprakash Namburu, said, “It was a very very old tree. Axing a tree and paying a minimal amount fine cannot be seen as a strong measure to prevent such actions. We have just about 5 percent tree cover in the city and the population density is alarming.”