Decades old trees cut down for development works in Tallakulam in Madurai
Decades old trees cut down for development works in Tallakulam in Madurai(File photo | K. Sundar, EPS)

Over 20 old trees axed in Madurai for road works, activists decry shoddy planning

As part of road expansion works, the state highways department earlier felled decades-old trees, including a 50-year-old neem tree, near Tallakulam.

MADURAI: Days after activists sought for conservation of decades-old trees in Madurai city in view of the ebbing green cover, the state highways department has axed over 20 old trees near the Melamadai — Gomathipuram area. Although the forest department has taken up efforts to plant more saplings, irate activists blame shoddy planning by the departments concerned.  

As part of road expansion works, the state highways department earlier felled decades-old trees, including a  50-year-old neem tree, near Tallakulam. Now, over 20 elder trees have been chopped on the stretch from Melamadai to Gomathipuram, near the Vandiyur tank, due to road expansion and bridge works. Conservation efforts taken up by environmentalists and others have failed to make a dent.

"Why aren't the departments concerned planning the projects in a way that does not affect the environment? More than 20 trees have been axed on this stretch. This is disappointing. All these trees are native species, which have protected the environment and the waterbody nearby. In the future, the department must execute plans without impacting the environment," said V Srinivasan, of Melamadai area in Madurai.

Citing rules in place for felling of trees, forest department officials stated that new saplings will be planted across the district to compensate for the loss of green cover. Although the option of transplanting trees remains, availability of suitable land for translocation, the cost, and the survival rate come under question. Officials, however, have assured that the department is trying to improve the green cover in the district through various schemes.

"Can the hundreds of saplings produce the amount of oxygen that was produced by the trees? The answer is no. Trees have been felled over time to make space for development. The district administration should be mindful of not initiating development works at the cost of the environment." Said Bharathi, a environmentalist from Madurai.

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