THOOTHUKUDI: Environmental activists have alleged that though Thoothukudi municipal corporation was allowed to cut only 64 trees as part of drainage project, the civic body had cut more than 300. They also urged the authorities concerned to make record of every tree that was cut and to abide by the High Court ruling to plant 10 trees for every tree felled.
The works of the 28-kilometre-long drainage and storm water drains worth Rs 253.04 crore are in full swing and the civic body aims to complete it before the onset of Northeast monsoon that begins in mid-October.
The corporation authorities had axed a number of trees along the roadsides in the city. Environmental activists had protested against rampant tree cutting and had petitioned collector on various occasions.
However, a senior corporation official wishing anonymity claimed that the corporation had obtained permission from Thoothukudi sub collector to axe 64 trees that obstruct the drainage canal project.
Environment activist and advocate, Mohandass, who campaign for planting tree saplings, said that at least 600 trees, most of them two-decade old, were axed without getting proper permission.
Rubbishing the corporation's claim of axing only 64 trees, Mohandass said that over 46 trees were axed along Millerpuram Road, which is not even a kilometre long, alone. "If that is the case at a small stretch, just imagine how many would have been axed in the entire corporation area," he asked.
"Trees are essential for the coastal city since it witnesses severe hot climate for more than eight months in a year. Besides, the city has a number of red category industries nearby," Mohandass further said.
Another activist Thondan Subramanian claimed that the corporation authorities had cut down over 500 trees and they should now plant 5000 trees in the corporation area. The corporation authorities should demolish the defunct drainages and reconstruct it so that tree cutting could be averted, he emphasised.
Sub Collector Simran Jeetsingh Kahlon told TNIE that the corporation was given permission to cut only obstructing trees with a condition to plant 10 tree saplings in place of one tree cut. "I'll get it checked if they have cut more than the required number of trees," he said when asked about the claims.
A senior corporation official, who preferred anonymity, said that waterlogging has been a recurring problem in the city, and it needs necessary infrastructure to drain the water into the sea. "It is well known that the city was flooded in 2015 and 2019, and it took a month to drain the water. Several low lying areas were unable to drain the water as geographically the area is below the mean-sea-level.