No formal request was made to the Tree Protection Committee seeking permission to cut down a ficus tree at Maruthankuzhi that got uprooted on Wednesday, Sridhar R., a member of the committee, has said

In the recent past, the committee had received only one application from the Police Department, for removing an aged, overgrown tree from the police quarters and due permission was accorded to cut the tree, he said. The committee was not against removing dangerously positioned trees located in public places, for that matter even on private properties, he said.

The incident at Maruthankuzhi led to public anger against environmental organisations with local councillor G. Suresh Kumar accusing the Tree Protection Committee of ignoring the plea to remove the tree. Mr. Kumar said he had submitted an application seeking permission to remove the tree but it was opposed by environmental groups

Joining issue, project director of the City Road Improvement Project (CRIP) Anil Pandala said it was high time that environmental groups made a rethinking on their opposition to cut down precariously positioned trees. The CRIP, he said, had invested around Rs.20 lakh for procuring equipment, including aerial lifts, to prune trees located along the 42-km road stretch under its management but they were unable to carry out the work due to stiff opposition from environmentalists

“We have identified at least 350 trees needed to be trimmed immediately,” he said.

Mr. Sridhar said all issues pertaining to felling of trees and pruning could be solved once the government enacted a legislation to constitute the Tree Authority, which would own and manage all existing trees.

“Currently, multiple government agencies own trees in the city, leading to several practical difficulties. Once all the trees are brought under the authority, it will take a judicious decision on which tree needs to be removed and pruned without waiting for any applications for the purpose,” he said.