Kochiites run short of green shade as Sun spews fire

More than 1,400 trees on public land in Ernakulam have been chopped down over the last one year.

But the actual loss would be double the figure because the Social Forestry wing of the Forest Department has data only for tree-felling requests officially submitted as per a government order on February 10, 2010.

The Social Forestry is tasked with granting permission to hack any tree standing on public land for developmental purposes / or which is in dangerous situation.

The official records showed that government agencies and departments had submitted the highest number of applications for tree felling from February 2012 to March this year.

The public sector FACT Cochin division at Ambalamedu got the nod for removing 101 trees located along the side of the company wall last month.

For the Kochi Metro Rail project, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation received permission to cut down 48 trees for development of the eastern entry tower near South railway station. The trees were estimated to cost around Rs. 93, 479.

Cochin University of Science and Technology, which had formulated a green budget in 2011-12, sought the permission for removing 27 trees in February as part of constructing the new library complex.

In January, the Assistant Engineer, Public Works Department section at Mulanthuruthy, requested permission for felling six trees as part of the pipeline project along the Piravom-Nadakkavu road. Without waiting for the Social Forestry wing’s sanction, the authorities went ahead and used excavators to carry out the work.

More than 20 trees were partially uprooted. We had then no other option but to give clearance, as these trees were dangerously perched, said a senior official of the Social Forestry wing in Ernakulam.

In October, 2012, the Defence Estate Officer at Ravipuram sought permission to axe nearly 327 trees located at the Coast Guard land in Nedumbassery. Permission was given to cut down 118 trees.

Most of the trees axed in the city were aged between 10 and 15 years. Though the authorities insist that for every tree felled, 10 saplings should be planted, there is no effective mechanism to ensure compliance. The Social Forestry wing lacks teeth and the officials could only ask the police to initiate action against those involved in tree felling, invoking the clause of destruction of public property.

An official recalled an incident where a policeman in Piravom rejected a complaint lodged against tree felling by stating that the Forest department had no jurisdiction over a tree located in land owned by the public works department.

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