A year ago, when P.K Saru returned to her house at Sundaram Brothers Layout, from a brief visit abroad, she found the beautiful mayflower tree in front of her house had been cut down. Her neighbours informed her that a few residents had decided to chop off all the trees as they felt that they were a hindrance to the electric and sewage lines.
Saru protested vociferously. Some of the oldest residents of the area such as Ivy Frank, and Dilip stood by her. “We told them, lop the trees but cutting them was out of question,” says Ivy.
Saru went door to door convincing the neighbours to sign a petition against the move. Finally the trees were left alone.
Thanks to the residents, the layout, which was once a parched betel leaf plantation, is now lush green. Charumithra, a resident of the layout remembers, “The layout is almost 50 years old. It used to be a barren piece of land, with just buildings and no trees. Some of us bought saplings from the nurseries and planted around 15 of them on both sides of the road.”
Today, there is absolute peace and quiet, occasionally interrupted by a bird call or a rustle of leaves. Residents who take an evening stroll gather under the canopy of trees to chat.
Hot pink bougainvillea, bright yellow flowers of the golden shower tree and red roses add a splash of colour to the houses.
The mango trees here offer generous numbers of alphonsos, banganapallis and malgoas during the monsoon.
In the month of May, gulmohar flowers carpet the road. The layout has tamarind trees that shower you with ripe tamarind fruits. There are also the neem, amla, coconut, sapota and rose apple trees, date palms and teak.
Every day, residents wake up to the calls of swallows, mynahs and cuckoos. However, the sparrows have stopped coming to the neighbourhood for the past four to five years. “Their nests are now occupied by the squirrels,” says Dilip. If you are lucky, you can spot parrots with bright red beaks, perched on the branches of the mango trees. Fruit bats, kingfishers and crow pheasants are frequent visitors too.
People often worry that these trees could affect the foundation of their homes or the sewage lines. They won’t, says Dileep. “A house falls because its foundation is not strong, not because there is a tree growing near it. Mango, neem and Gulmohar trees, that are common here, have tap roots. And their roots are nowhere near the foundation of the buildings.”
Saru believes that these issues are manageable. “No one cuts trees for that. Trees increase the oxygen level in the atmosphere, creating a healthy environment to live. They are God’s gifts.”