Madurai

Decades-old trees along Kadayam-Tenkasi highway face axing

Decades-old trees along the Kadayam-Tenkasi highway are facing the threat of being axed even though the majestically grown shady trees do not affect vehicular traffic on this busy thoroughfare in any way.

When Kumarasamy Mudaliar, son of then ‘jilla board member’ Medai Thalavai Mudaliar, saw the felling of tall trees near Kadayam in 1945, he stopped it and took steps for planting tamarind trees afresh on both sides of the road from Mudaliarpatti to Ariyappapuram Vilakku. This spot is called ‘Ellaippuli’ even today.

Even though this avenue of trees does not affect the vehicular traffic and neither Department of Traffic nor Highways recommend felling or pruning of these trees, a few persons cut huge branches of these trees on January 7. Even as they were cutting larger branches closer to the ground as a precursor to the felling of the entire trees, former Tenkasi MLA K. Ravi Arunan, who was crossing the Kadayam panchayat union office, confronted these people and wanted to know the persons who had ordered the cutting of the trees. They continued their operation that forced the locals to join hands with Mr. Ravi Arunan. Those cutting the trees left the spot and the trees have been saved.

“The Kadayam-Tenkasi highway handles the present volume of traffic and there is no need for axing the trees. It’s being done at the behest of a few officials of the Department of Highways, who have failed to remove encroachments along this road. If temporary and permanent illegal structures made along this road are removed and potholes plugged, the road will become fit for carrying even larger trucks. Instead, trees are being axed for reasons best known to them,” said Mr. Ravi Arunan, who has sent a complaint to the Chief Minister’s Special Cell.

He says that the Chief Minister should order the officials who had ordered the cutting of the trees to plant new trees in the places where it is needed. “I am prepared to give tree saplings free of cost to be planted as a damage control measure,” he said saying that the rules on felling trees should be modified so that the cutting order could be given only by the Collector concerned.

When Mr. Ravi Arunan was the MLA of Tenkasi Assembly segment, the Highways Department officials decided to widen the Old Courtallam Road which threatened a good number of trees along the road. Mr. Ravi Arunan asked the officials to lay a new road parallel to the existing road without axing the trees. As it required a lot of funds, the plan was shelved. Even then, Mr. Ravi Arunan ensured that none of these trees were felled even though the road was widened to the maximum possible extent.

“If anyone dares to lay hands on any of these trees, I’ll mobilise the public against it,” he said.


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Printable version | May 20, 2022 1:17:35 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/trees/article38298178.ece