Gulbarga road raze kills many peepul trees

The district in Krishna basin has lost its green cover

Gulbarga road raze kills many peepul trees

BullDozed A tree being felled to pave way for road-widening in Gulbarga. DH photo

Trees, both old and young that used to flank the main roads of this historical city providing much sought after shade during summers when temperatures range between 40-45 degree centigrade, are being axed to widen roads.

The district which is the heartland of the Krishna basin lost much green cover during the recent unprecedented deluge caused by the shrinking of the Krishna delta has lost 422 trees to the road-widening  frenzy.

The mass arboreal slaught has come close on the heels of another environmentally catastrophic act of raging down a mind-boggling 10,500 trees for construction of 190-km long four-lane road from Bidar to Hattigudur. The compensating plantation is nowhere to be seen.

Included among the trees to make way for widening are giant peepul trees. The sacred texts ban the axing of the peepul trees, not for superstitious beliefs, but for sound environmental reasons. Peepul tree is said to be the maximum oxygen producing tree at an estimated rate of 3,750 kg per hour.

Sensing this importance, the Forest Department has over the last few years undertaken planting of peepul trees on road side in a big way. Each tree is considered a carbon sink as it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases the equivalent in oxygen. Though the value of a tree cannot be quantified in monetary terms, a modest estimation is that a well grown tree costs not less than Rs 50 lakh!

Heavy price

The administration is widening the roads under the Chief Minister’s special package of Rs100 crore for the Gulbarga Mahanagr Palike. Although funds had been sanctioned about two years ago, the Palike woke up from its slumber after a series of raps on knuckled administered by the Chief Minister, with the trees paying the heaviest price. Intent on showing that it was serious about its job, the administration bullied the Forest Department into giving its mute consent to the slaughter of trees.

The administration’s stress on sacrificing the trees for widening roads is subject to animated discussion here. The citizens have been demanding widening of inner city roads for decongesting them. But the authorities, obviously under pressure by vested political interests, are not touching roads inside the city and are concentrating on the peripheral main roads.

The road from Rashtrapati Chowk to Ram Mandir is being widened into a four-lane road, from the existing seven metres width to a whopping 18 metres. However, citizens point out that such widening was redundant for two reasons. The road from Jewargi side branches out it into two lanes, one going under railway bridge and the other over bridge. The under bridge widening has already been entrusted to the railways to ease congestion. Secondly, the ring road is almost complete and would ease at least 40 per cent of the vehicular traffic on the city trunk roads.

In short, the killing of the trees was unnecessary. But trees have no voice. And the citizens do not raise theirs.

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