ELURU: The nearly century-old peepal tree in the heart of Eluru town, under which sellers of curd made a livelihood for decades came crashing to the ground on Thursday, claiming the life of a woman and leaving the locals shocked. The area where the tree stood for decades came to be known as ‘Perugu Chettu Centre’.
The locals were dumb-struck as the massive tree, which withstood several natural adversities, fell in a heap at a time when there was not even a hint of wind and suspected foul play behind its sudden death.
According to the locals, people from nearby villages used to bring curd to sell under the shade of the tree. The tree became a landmark in the I Town area.
While M Venkataramana (48) died on the spot, her husband Subba Rao and others who were collecting scrap near the tree escaped with minor injuries. The locals suspect the role of owner of a nearby apartment, which is under construction, in the collapse of the tree. They said the builder had cut some branches of the tree two days back and suspected that he had some chemical injected into the roots to ‘kill’ the tree.
“Subba Rao lodged a complaint with police raising doubts over the cause of the tree’s sudden collapse. He wanted probe to find out if anybody used chemical to kill the tree,’’ I Town SI Kishore Babu told TNIE. He assured that probe would be conducted to see if there was any sabotage. Locals said that more lives would have been lost had the tree collapsed during the evening hours as, apart from curd sellers, several other petty traders make a living by selling various wares under the tree.