Friday, June 11, 2010

Trees obstructing hoardings are clandestinely chopped on Vittal Mallya Road

Cut the trees, they are blocking the view
Trees obstructing hoardings are clandestinely chopped on Vittal Mallya Road

Road widening, Metro, underpass construction, parking space...we thought we had heard it all when it came to reasons to axe trees. A new excuse has just been added: Cut trees because they block the view of a gigantic hoarding for passersby.
On the morning of June 7, barely two days after World Environment Day, residents of Eden Park Apartments on Vittal Mallya Road woke up to a shocking sight. Some 4-5 trees at the entrance of the apartment had been chopped, and only stumps were left. Apparently a gang of around 8 to 10 men armed with chainsaws and other tools had landed at their premises around 3 am and chopped off the trees.
Imtiaz Sharafali, wellness consultant and acting secretary of the Eden Park Residents Association, said: “Shrimanth, the guard, called me up after the incident and told me what had happened. What can one man do against a group that’s armed? They came when everyone was asleep. They even entered the premises of the adjacent bank and chopped off some plants in their compound.”
According to Imtiaz, Palani, the building security manager and a couple of other residents we spoke to, this is not the first time such a thing has happened. Imtiaz remembers, “There was a very old and beautiful tree right at the gate. Just like this time, a group of men came in the dead of night when no one was around and cut it off.”
And it was not that they did not complain. Imtiaz said, “We wrote letters and complained to BBMP, but nothing happened. We planted these trees and now they have cut them off too.”
The angry residents have filed a complaint with the Cubbon Park Police Station and say they will plant trees again.
While it is not clear who is behind the dastardly act, the residents think it is the company that owns big hoardings that are situated right next to Eden Park, which is responsible for it. The reason for chopping off the green in the area seems very simple: They are obstructing the hoarding.
We called the number given on the hoardings, but there was no response.
Anantha, an activist and whose office is in Eden Park, says, “I was absolutely shocked when I came to office on Monday, to see the trees gone. People will do anything for money.”
Imtiaz finds it appalling. “At a time where people went about planting trees on World Environment Day, here they came and removed them,” he said. For Sheila (name changed) who works in an office there, “Our basic concern is there is no accountability in people cutting trees. Police obviously know what is going on but prefer to not do anything about it. I think the hoarding licence should be cancelled,” she says.
A staffer at the bank in the premises says, “I asked the gardener who looks after the plants in the road about it. He feigned ignorance and looked scared.” SPECIAL TREES
Okay, so they were just some trees that someone planted. What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, for David S R, Business Development Manager with Golden Square, the trees were special. As he tells us, “A person I knew had lost his family in an accident and so, he had decided to plant these trees in their memory.
We had planted around 15 trees in and around the Vittal Mallya Road including outside the apartments. Just last week, I had taken photos of the trees and was happy seeing them all grown. It shook me up to see them gone in a matter of days. I had an emotional attachment to the trees.
“The trees were spared when Rs 600 crore was spent on the road. They couldn’t spare trees now because they were blocking the view? Can the government come up with an action against hoarding companies to stop them from chopping trees all over Bangalore?” he asks.


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