The Forest Department will take action against the destruction of tree saplings on either sides of the bypass road here by workers engaged in the road widening work two days ago.

P.U. Saju, Assistant Forest Conservator (Social Forestry) said a team will be deputed to estimate the loss, and action will be initiated for causing damage to public property. He said that without the written consent of the authorities concerned, no damage to trees or property in public places is allowed and the department had already booked two cases in Thodupuzha and Adimaly for cutting trees on the road side by private parties.

The widening work of the bypass road was entrusted to workers under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP), who destroyed the four-year-old trees in a vast stretch by cutting the main trunks. The trees include the rain tree, spathodia, shoe flower and cane bamboos planted by Green Leaf, a non-profit environmental group.

Mr. Saju said that since the tree saplings were planted by an NGO, it could also file a case before the police for destroying the property and added that the department will take proper action after estimating the damage.

Meanwhile C.P. Roy, a member of Green Leaf, said that the saplings were planted outside the stone boundary marked for the road in view of future development works and widening of the road. “Even the trees planed by Green Leaf nearly 20 years back on the sides of the main roads in Kattappana now stand without causing any hindrance to the traffic,” he said and alleged that there was an ‘ulterior motive’ behind the destruction of the tree saplings which were clearly marked as planted trees.

He also said while the government was keen on planting tree saplings on road sides elsewhere, the saplings planted by the agency have been vastly destroyed here. Green Leaf with the support of the Forest Department had undertaken planting and protection of trees on the roadside in other places in the district. Outside the district, the trees planted by Green Leaf in a 13 k.m. stretch on Pala-Erattupetta road and a two-and-a-half km stretch of the Changanassery bypass road provide green cover to travellers. As the saplings are planted after considering the likely road widening works, there is no justification for destroying the plants in the name of road-widening works, he said.

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