In an effort to save the scenic East Coast Road’s tree cover during the four-laning of the road, the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company is transplanting trees.

As a first step, 50 trees from Vadanemeli are being transplanted at Thiruvidanthai, just beyond the edge of the road.

Sources in the TNRDC said most trees along the road were around 14 years old, and could not be cut down. Places such as Pattipulam, Mamallapuram, Thiruvidanthai and Vadanemeli have tree cover. So far, 46 trees have been transplanted based on their age and root system, and the girth of their trunk. The trees have been moved to a one-km stretch and being planted at every 15 metre.

The branches of the trees chosen for transplantation were pruned, the roots wrapped and moved to the new spot where root hormones were sprayed and fungicide was applied to spots where branches were cut. The pits were filled with a mixture of sand and red earth. The trees will be watered daily for 20 days and then on alternate days.

“We cannot transplant palm and casuarina trees because of their tap root system. But we will plant new coconut and royal palm trees. Only 6-7 palm trees will be cut down in the widening. Panamaram (palm) cannot be sourced from anywhere; they grow naturally,” explained a source in the TNRDC.

To increase the green cover along the road, 3,600 saplings, which are 10 feet tall and procured from Andhra Pradesh, will be planted from October-end. The road already has some 2,400 trees planted since 2008.

This is not the first time that the TNRDC is transplanting trees. It had successfully transplanted 148 trees on Rajiv Gandhi Salai several years ago.