Determined that their alma mater should not become victim to encroachment for commercial purposes, a group of former students of the Government Central High School, Attakulangara came together with the citizens’ network ‘Tree Walk’ on Sunday for a ‘Raksha bandhan for trees.’
About 48 trees on the compound had been marked by Thiruvananthapuram Development Authority (TRIDA), which had been handed over around two acres of the 125-year-old school compound to build a bus bay and a commercial complex.
The group of alumni and ‘Tree Walk’ members went around tying ‘rakhis’ in the form of green ribbons around the marked trees, which included a few said to be around 200 years old.
“Some trees on the compound were planted in the time of Ayilyam Thirunal Maharaja before it was formally handed over to the school,” said Devaki Antarjanam, a former teacher, pointing out to a large tree near one of the old school buildings which had been marked with the number ‘13’.
The alumni who had gathered on the school premises on Sunday were mainly students of the 1970s and 80s batches. This included Anandavalli, class of 1988, who had come in from Coimbatore just to attend the meet. There was also Krishnankutty Nair, a resident of Punalur, who said he had studied in the school way back in 1952.
The former students of the school feel that their school, which had around 1,500 students till the 1990s, has been ‘slow-poisoned’, with the government neglecting it and failing to post good teachers. The number of students in the school now is 64.
Meanwhile, Tree Walk had a meeting with TRIDA last week to discuss the alternate plan mooted by them, which suggests other spaces in and around East Fort for the TRIDA project and seeks to spare the school.
“The alternate sites they suggested are not new,” TRIDA chairman P K Venugopal told Express. “We have certain constraints and it is not possible to forego the school compound for our project which includes a parking area for 22 buses and rehabilitation of traders from Thakaraparambu. We are, however, open to any suggestions and plans from members of the public that will reduce the casualty of the school’s trees,” he said.
The alternate spaces suggested included the bus-idling bay near Gandhi Park, and the five-acre area acquired by TRIDA on the Attakulangara-Killipalam bypass which is currently being used as a waste dump.