Coimbatore’s green cover on the decline

About 7,600 trees have been axed over the last 10 years to facilitate the widening of highways and city roads

Published - July 10, 2024 11:54 pm IST - COIMBATORE

Coimbatore city that was once known for the green canopy on all its main roads has not only lost over 7,000 trees in the last 10 years, but also not seen much effort to restore the greenery on these stretches.

Not less than 7,600 trees have been axed over the last 10 years to facilitate the widening of highways and city roads, including Sathyamangalam Road, Mettupalayam Road, Neelambur - Avinashi Road, and Pollachi Road, says J. Sathish, joint secretary of the Residents Awareness Association of Coimbatore.

V. Easwaran, president of the Marumalarchi Makkal Iyyakam, says lack of stringent enforcement of legal mandates requiring planting of 10 saplings for each tree cut is a reason for the city’ losing its trees.

For instance, replantation of 24,000 trees for the 2,239 trees cut on the Pollachi -Coimbatore Road was taken up through the District Rural Development Authority. But, there is no proper following up on these. Also there is no focused effort to maintain the saplings planted in compensation for the trees cut, he says.

Kannan, a 37-year-old motorist says, “I have driven to every nook and corner of Coimbatore, and it is striking how the trees that once adorned the area have vanished over the last few decades.”

R. Manikandan, founder of Kovai Kulangal Padhukappu Amaippu, said the tree-planting initiatives of Government departments are not backed with financial support for nourishment, advocating raising of saplings with care in advance, before chopping down existing trees.

The Government should formulate a policy to make financial allotments for maintenance as well, he said, mooting a committee comprising government officials, NGOs, and the public for follow-up for at least three years, as an optimal solution.

According to V. Geethalakshmi, Vice Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), “Every year sees a notable increase in temperature. Unseasonal rainfall and drought are factors leading to a decline in green cover.”

This year, from January to May 15, there was no consistent rainfall. In terms of distribution, there was a noticeable lack of rain during the expected period, contributing to a brief period of drought likely caused by the reduction in green cover, she added.

Landscape architects advocate moving beyond traditional methods to enhance the city’s green cover.

“Planting semi-shade trees and ground covers between the pillars of the city’s new flyovers will integrate greenery into urban infrastructure,” said Ranjith Rathinasamy, Managing Director of Covai Landscape Solutions. 

Leveraging Open Space Reservation (OSR) areas in the city for extensive tree planting will also enrich the city’s green cover, he said.

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