City's trees still choked by concrete, electric wires

In spite of law, hoardings can be seen nailed to them

City's trees still choked by concrete, electric wires

Three years after an order by the National Green Tribunal to free trees of “encroachment”, thousands of trees in the capital are still being choked by electric wires and concrete.

This week, while hearing the same case, the NGT took strong objection to high tension cables encircling trees and slammed the power distribution companies, directing them to remove them quickly.

It also directed all municipal corporations and concerned departments to file their compliance reports on deconcretisation of trees within two weeks.

The law requires a breathing space of 6x6 feet around every tree trunk.

Trees prone to diseases
According to experts, if this space is concretised with cement and tiles, water does not percolate to the roots and this makes them weak. It also makes the trees prone to all kinds of diseases and their barks start decaying.

Similarly, power distribution companies are using trees as poles and wrapping them with electric wires.

“These wires generate heat and cause damage to trees. Many petrol bunks do it during festivals. Some trees have birds nesting in them and these wires can disturb them,” said environmentalist Padmavati Dwivedi, who conducted the capital’s first tree census five years ago.

In spite of the law and many court rulings, it is common to see trees being choked by metal guards, wrapped with electric wires, and hoardings and cameras nailed to them.

This is due to the lax approach by authorities, claim experts.
Environmentalist Aditya N Prasad, who filed the petition in 2013, said that he hasn’t seen much change after the order.

“We got an order in this case very soon but agencies have not been able to protect trees. It is not widely publicised and now even Delhi Police is putting their CCTV cameras around them. The Forest Department which is responsible for implementing the rules does not have enough staff,” the environmentalist said.

Tarun Coomar, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, said the department works on the basis of the information it gets.

“If we receive information of concretisation or wiring around trees, we inform the district authorities who take action under Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994. We cannot be present everywhere and hence rely on information from agencies or individuals,” he said.

There is provision for a fine or imprisonment under the Act. The fine can go up to Rs 30,000.

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