On June 5, World Environment Day, the Tree Protection Committee will visit Government Central High School, Attakulangara, on the sprawling campus of which a shopping complex and bus stand are to come up by felling around 25 trees. The committee will later examine the blueprint prepared by the Thiruvananthapuram Development Authority (TRIDA) which is undertaking the project.
The committee was formed in 2010 to help minimise tree-felling in cities. The then Forest Minister Benoy Viswom had mooted a tree authority for the protection of trees in urban spaces, but the proposal got stalled.
However, a government order was issued forming TPCs in all districts.
All constructions on public property are to be examined and approved by these committees. Their mandate is yet to be woven into an Act, but they have modified several proposals forcing agencies such as the Public Works Department and the Kerala Road Fund Board to evaluate how best the trees in the assigned area can be preserved. The committee found that in several plans protection of trees was not even remotely considered.
“One big challenge is that we are consulted only just ahead of the actual construction,” said R. Sridhar, a member.
Thus, their duty is mostly limited to demanding that five or ten times the number of trees being cut be planted, depending on the space available.
The widening of the Vanchiyoor stretch is among the more controversial projects they had intervened in.
A small group of environmentalists acted as a counterforce and instead of rampant felling of all 60-odd trees, only 16 were cut. The Tree Walk group has also gotten increasingly more active.
Despite the downpour on Sunday morning, a group of 35 assembled at Attakulangara to promote awareness about the proposed project and how it could be detrimental to the green cover here. The group will organise a walk at 5 p.m. on June 8 on the Balavihar premises opposite Chinmaya High School at Vazhuthacaud.