Indiscriminate digging of roads for Smart City projects in T. Nagar has led to trees being damaged.
Residents, traders and NGOs are opposing the move to dig up roads in the area, where the Chennai Corporation is building a pedestrian plaza.
“Workers have damaged roots of huge trees. Many such trees are likely to die. But Corporation workers are not concerned,” said a trader on Thyagaraya Road, on which a dozen trees were found damaged on Friday.
“Digging has been taken up without proper micro-level planning and sensitive consideration for the large, old trees in Pondy Bazaar,” said Change India founder A. Narayanan.
“The work has now exposed their roots of the trees, weakening the support system, which will eventually lead to the death of the trees. Owing to indiscriminate digging, the trees will get uprooted and fall down in the event of a cyclone,” Mr. Narayanan charged.
Wary of officials
Several traders said they did not question the Corporation workers because they were wary of the State government and the civic body.
Change India has already sent representations to the Chennai Smart City Ltd, Chennai Corporation and the Additional Director General of Police (Traffic police).
“We have specifically mentioned that T. Nagar has managed to retain a fairly decent amount of vegetation and landscape in spite of being a congested commercial area. Therefore, there is a need to carry out an in-depth feasibility study, including an environmental impact assessment of the proposed project and ensure that no damage is done to the existing vegetation and landscape in the area,” said Mr. Narayanan.
Non-governmental organisations like his have complained that the authorities have ignored their pleas and not involved the local stakeholders.
Threat to vegetation
“Our worst fears are coming true. We fear that the vegetation will get destroyed if Chennai Smart City Limited goes ahead with indiscriminate digging without giving thought to the trees which they cannot grow back at any cost,” said Mr. Narayanan.
Reacting to the incident, Chennai Smart City CEO Raj Cherubal said, “We are extremely sensitive to the issue. We will protect the trees. We will add more trees.”