Staff Reporter

Felling stopped on environmentalists’ intervention

Trees cut down in violation of Ministers’ promise

Felling was resumed on Monday morning

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Environmentalists blocked felling of trees on the Kowdiar-Pattom road on Monday and managed to get an assurance from the Public Works Department that the remaining trees on the stretch would be allowed to stand.

This was after they got a similar assurance from Forest Minister Benoy Viswom and Public Works Minister Mons Joseph on Sunday when the felling began for the City Road Improvement Project and a huge mango tree was cut down.

G. Shankar, architect, and R. Ajayan and Eldho, environmental activists, had rushed to the spot and managed to get the Ministers’ assurance.

The workers of the contractor said they had orders from the Kerala Road Fund Board to remove the trees within 48 hours.

The activists said the order was in violation of a decision taken at a high-level meeting convened by Mr. Joseph a month ago.

By the time revenue officials led by Madhu Gangadhar, Tahsildar, reached the spot and instructed the contractor to stop felling, the mango tree was cut down. The contractor resumed felling on Monday morning. Nature lovers and local people came out in protest. By the time the police and the revenue officials reached the spot, three more trees were axed.

Mr. Shankar said the authorities had scant respect for the assurances given by the Ministers. “It is also a violation of the decision of the high-level committee. We are trying to salvage as many trees as possible,” Mr. Shankar, a member of the committee, said.

Later, a Public Works Department official arrived on the spot and told the contractor to stop felling.

The environmentalists alleged that 54 avenue trees at Thampanoor, LMS junction and Kowdiar localities had been identified for felling for road development.

Harithakoottayima, a green collective, organised a signature campaign at Thampanoor in the evening to protect trees from the axe when spadework is done for widening the Overbridge-Thampanoor road.