Environmentalists against felling of trees to build ‘Tharpana Mandapam’

The fate of eight towering trees on a Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department land along River Noyyal’s southern bank in Perur remains uncertain.

For, the Department has planned to construct a ‘Tharpana Mandapam’ (rite hall) there replacing the temporary structures.

This move has upset environmentalists, who say that the Department should spare the trees and consider an alternative proposal put forth by the Perur Town Panchayat.

The priests who perform the ceremony also want the trees spared. The Department, based on an announcement by the State Government in the Tamil Nadu Assembly had planned to construct 120 x 60 feet hall to replace the existing temporary shelters to let people perform last rites for the departed and also the associated annual ritual.

Granite

The Department had proposed floors in granite and roof in galvanised iron sheet and complete the project in four months.

At present, there are only makeshift shelters measuring not more than five by six feet, which nestled among the trees, provide the necessary space for nearly 45 priests to perform the rites at one go for as many families. And, the shelters can accommodate nearly 400 people.

The environmentalists- representatives of Nature Conservation Society and Osai- say that if the Department were to construct the hall it would be at the cost of the trees and that was something that could not be accepted.

The trees were fully grown and each appeared to be more than 30 years old.

They provided the necessary shade and made life comfortable for the priests and also the people who visited the place.

The activists said that as per the Perur Town Panchayat’s plan, the Department could go in for smaller sheds that could be constructed among the trees, without affecting the environment.

Representatives of the priests’ association said that they too did not want the Department to construct a big shed as it would only hamper their operations and cause discomfiture to the people. The Department sources said that they had written to the Revenue Department seeking permission to cut only a few trees or chop branches wherever necessary and awaited permission.

To meet Collector

The environmental activists said that they had planned to approach the Collector Archana Patnaik to ask the Department to rethink its design for the hall and take up construction without affecting the trees.

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