Mohamed Imranullah S.
MADURAI: Development seldom takes place without a detriment, particularly to the Mother Nature.
And when it comes to widening the motorways, the axe often falls on trees that provide shade, fruits, flowers, medicine and much more.
Thousands of trees were felled on the Madurai-Tirumangalam highway some time back to pave the way for widening the road.
A few more thousands were being cut at present on the Madurai-Tiruchi highway. Officials have planned to uproot at least 2,000 more trees on the Madurai-Dindigul Road. The Temple City has been constantly sacrificing its most precious treasure trees for want of better road connectivity. But there is no other alternative, say the Forest Department officials.
"Most of these trees are old and over matured. Their lifecycle is almost over," claimed K.S. Devadas, Assistant Conservator of Forests.
When asked about the possibilities of transplanting, the official said these trees might not survive in the new environment since the success rate was just 20 to 40 per cent. "It is easy to transplant young trees and it involves so many factors such as soil condition, the species and so on, besides huge expenditure," he added.
Reacting to allegations of diverting timber to private individuals, Mr. Devadas said they followed a foolproof system to ensure that there was no loss to the public exchequer.
"We adopt an internationally recognised and nationally approved method in disposing of the felled trees.
There is no chance of any irregularities," he said.
As per the norms, the Highways Department has to call for an assessment report from the Forest Department. The Ranger or unit officer, followed by the District Forest Officer and then the Conservator would inspect the spot separately and enumerate the volume of trees on the section.
A detailed report would be prepared on their market rate and transportation charges along with nine per cent profit for the contractors before calling for open tenders, he said.
However, parting with the trees is always painful, as the American poet Stanley Kunitz recalls in his poem, `War Against the Trees':
"While the bulldozers, drunk with gasoline,
Tested the virtue of the soil ...
They struck and struck again,
And with each elm a century went down."