Monday, April 26, 2004

Musings on a magnificent mahogany

Thats not the new title of my blog, but the leadline of an article in The Hindu which is the second within a week on Akkayamma and her nurturing of the magnificent Mahogany tree which stands near Koshy's on St. Mark's Road. The story is about this 75-year old fruit seller Akkayamma who has lived for 60 years under this tree and even raised a family there. Last year, following the widening of that stretch of St. Mark's Road , the BMP directed a contractor to chop the tree off. Axe-wielding men descended on the site and brushed off Akkayamma and sunk their blades into its trunk. A distraught Akkayamma ran to Prem Koshy of Koshy's who along with friends and fellow environmentalists like former Justice Michael Saldanha, Suresh Heblikar and others rushed to the site and staved off the workmen. Forest department official Basha landed up at the spot and directed the workmen to spare the tree. Subsequently the BMP was persuaded to withdraw permission to cut the tree. Yellappa Reddy, former enviroment secretary, says that mahogany trees can live for more than 400 years and produces 500-600 litres of oxygen everyday. It not only absorbs noise but also provides shade because of a dense foliage. He adds, "One mahogany tree is equivalent to 100 air-conditioners and 200 air-coolers".


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